On the night of May 6, 1980, when Rui Rodrigues entered the cockpit of the TAP Boeing 727 bound for Faro and gave the order to divert the plane to Madrid, the world was already more than familiar with air piracy. And Portugal, the country where the first serious diversion of a commercial airliner was witnessed that Tuesday (the first diversion actually took place in 1931, in Peru) was no different.
But since November 10, 1961, the day on which six anti-Salazar revolutionaries, led by Hermínio da Palma Inácio, fulfilled the plan drawn up by Henrique Galvão (who months before had already stormed the steamer Santa Maria) and diverted the TAP flight from Casablanca to Lisbon, there was no more talk of air piracy in Portuguese. For this reason, although Operation Vagô, as it became known, was still fresh in the country’s memory, celebrating six years since the end of the dictatorship, at the time there was no lack of news of other diversions, only from other latitudes.
Ever since Palma Inácio broke into the cockpit of TAP’s “Super-Constellation” and forced the pilot to circle over Greater Lisbon, throwing thousands of Free Portuguese Abroad Anti-Totalitarian Front flyers out of an emergency window, kidnappings of planes, for political reasons but not only that, they had never stopped… out there.
This article is exclusive to our subscribers: subscribe now and benefit from unlimited reading and other benefits. If you are already a subscriber, log in here. If you think this message is an error, please contact our customer service.