On Oct 4, 1971, George Giffe, a 35-year-old Tennessee man suffering from mental illness, hijacked a charter plane at gunpoint from the Nashville airport. He also claimed to be in possession of a bomb.
Running low on fuel, the plane’s pilot landed in Jacksonville, FL, where the FBI was waiting. After a brief standoff, Giffe killed the two hostages who remained onboard before turning the gun on himself.
One of the two was Brent Downs—the pilot of the plane.
At StoryCorps, Brent’s son Andy (pictured above with his mother Janie and his father) spoke with Angelia Sheer, the daughter of the man who killed his father.
This tragedy helped shape the way in which law enforcement subsequently handled hijackings after a federal appeals court ruled in 1975 that the FBI acted negligently when agents ignored the safety of the people onboard (the plane is pictured above sitting on the tarmac in Jacksonville, FL).
Originally aired October 2, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.