Volga-Dnepr Brings the ‘Landshut’ Home

Many of us, not just those in the aviation industry, will still remember those tragic days in October 1977 when a Lufthansa Boeing 737-200 was hijacked on a flight from Palma de Majorca to Frankfurt and the four day ordeal suffered by its crew and passengers.

Unloading of the Landshut Boeing 737  -  courtesy: LH
Unloading of the Landshut Boeing 737 - courtesy: LH

‘Landshut’ is back home
The aircraft in question which was named after Bavaria’s town of Landshut, was operating a normal passenger flight from PMI to FRA on October 13, when a group of terrorists hijacked it, starting an ordeal which forced the crew to fly to Rome, Cyprus, Bahrain, Dubai, Aden and finally to Mogadishu. There, on October 18 German GSG9 Special Forces stormed the aircraft, freed the passengers and killed three of the hijackers.
Help came too late however for the Lufthansa captain, Juergen Schumann, who was cold-bloodedly murdered by the terrorists beforehand. The Landshut spent some considerable time in maintenance thereafter and resumed service but was then later sold to Brazilian carrier TAF Linhas. The aircraft was put out of service in 2008 and since then had been languishing away at Brazil’s Fortaleza Airport. It was located again by chance and public opinion led to the German government buying it and arranging for its homecoming.
The Landshut will be rebuilt with the help of LH technicians and placed on show in the Dornier Museum in Friedrichshafen as a “living symbol of free society, which cannot be defeated by fear and terror.”

Volga-Dnepr uses two aircraft for transport
Russian heavy lift experts, Volga-Dnepr, were commissioned to bring the aircraft back home. They used one of their mighty Antonov AN-124 freighters to carry the fuselage and wings and a smaller Ilyushin IL-76TD to carry the engines and other parts.
Almost forty years afterwards the Landshut arrived back home when both Volga-Dnepr aircraft touched down in Friedrichshafen to be greeted by a large crowd of officials, the media and former crew members of that fateful flight, all of whom were on hand to welcome the Landshut back home.
It will take some time to restore the B737 back to its old glory.  A process which is largely dependent on private donations.
Michael Smirnykh, General Director of Volga-Dnepr Airlines stated that “we are extremely proud to have been chosen to bring the Boeing 737 ‘Landshut’ home to Germany. It is a symbol of the nation’s commitment to never bow down to terrorism.”

John Mc Donagh

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