Insanity in the Air

Do you ever wistfully look back to the days when flying was easy and fun— back when we dressed up to fly because it was an occasion and passengers felt it was a privilege? Remember when there were no angry or demented people to deal with and nothing crazy ever happened? Remember Wien-Alaska Airlines? Those were the days for sure:

Fairbanks Daily News Miner- June 9, 1951

Insane man Seizes Controls in Air, Runs Amuck, Breaks Glass

A Wien-Alaska airlines pilot last night described a twenty-minute battle with an insane passenger who struck him on the head, tried to take over the controls, smashed three windows and threw out freight while the plane was approximately 5,000 feet in the air.

Don Hulshizer, 32, said the insanity patient appeared calm and normal yesterday when he and his wife, were picked up at Circle Hot Springs. The passenger stayed in his seat until the Norseman plane was approximately twenty minutes from Fairbanks. Suddenly the passenger walked into the pilot’s compartment and said to Hulshizer:

“Do you believe in God?”

“Yes,” Hulshizer replied.

“Well, get out of the seat and let God fly,” the passenger said.

The crazed man lunged at the controls, and grabbed the wheel that controlled the plane. Hulshizer wrestled it away from him. Then the passenger sprawled into the co-pilot’s seat and smashed a clip board that held the flight orders.

While Hulshizer fought to protect the controls, the insane man struck the pilot in the head. The passenger was about six feet tall, and very husky. Suddenly, the crazed man abandoned the pilot’s compartment, and grabbed up some canned goods in the plane. He smashed three windows, and then began throwing parcels out of the plane. “I didn’t try to stop him,” Hulshizer explained. “He was awfully big, and I was glad to have him leave me alone.” The only other person on the plane was the insane man’s wife, and the terrified woman was unable to exert any control over him.

Hulshizer radioed ahead to the field and a group of Wien employees were on hand when the plane landed. But before they could overpower the passenger, he escaped, and ran down the airfield, throwing off his clothes. He took of his shoes and threw them at the employees. Then, the crazed man picked up a pipe and damaged two aircraft, including a Cessna 170 which suffered a smashed windshield.

Police and an ambulance arrived, and the man was finally overpowered, and taken to a padded cell in the federal jail. The plane landed in Fairbanks about three o’clock yesterday.

Note: The pilot, Don Hulshizer was a member of Igloo No. 4 and a survivor of flying for Wien- Alaska Airlines. As you can see, the skies were not always so friendly in the good old days! This high-flying history nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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