Oakland International Airport

When air traffic controllers at a suburban Detroit airport heard the word "hijack" over the radio, they did not stop to ask questions. SWAT teams were mobilised, the FBI rushed on to the runway and snipers took up position.

Meanwhile, inside the surrounded corporate jet, a bemused passenger and his pilot, an old friend called Jack, wondered what the fuss was about. As he boarded the plane and saw who was in the cockpit, the passenger, it turned out, had greeted him, "Hi, Jack." Unfortunately, the pilot was just turning off his radio to the control tower and they were the last words transmitted - giving the impression of an armed takeover of the aircraft.

Officials at Oakland International Airport promptly went into emergency mode, because although the small airfield may have seemed an unlikely venue for a hijacking, since home-grown and international terrorists began striking in America, nowhere regards itself as safe. The plane was ordered to return and the pilot told to step off slowly. He showed his identification and reassured everyone that no hijacking was under way. But police boarded the plane to see for themselves.

Police Captain Chuck Jehle joked later: "They'll probably pass a rule that no one named Jack can ever be hired in aviation again."


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