Historical post from the week of 5/28/18

While the photo is clearly troubling to look at, the story accompanying it is a testament to the bravery, professionalism and ultimately the ingenuity of employees of TWA and Boeing, the airplane's manufacturer. On August 29, 1969, TWA flight 840, a Boeing 707-331B was hijacked after leaving Rome. It was scheduled to fly onto Athens and then Tel Aviv. It was the final destination that attracted the interest of the hijackers, who identified themselves as members of the Palestinian Liberation Movement. After leaving Rome, the hijackers demanded the plane be diverted to Damascus, Syria. Upon its arrival in Damascus, the plane was completely evacuated and moments later, an explosion was set off, resulting in the complete destruction of the front end of the aircraft. No one was hurt.

There are many aspects to this event, however, we'll put those aside for now, concentrating instead on what happened afterward to the airplane itself. Amazingly, technicians from Boeing and TWA were able to engineer a repair to the aircraft and it was eventually put back into service, flying the line for TWA until its retirement in 1983. To fix it, a completely new forward section (extending from the nose to just beyond the forward cabin door) was manufactured by Boeing in Seattle and then flown to Damascus, where the work was completed. 

As an historic footnote, the repaired airplane was re-registered (from N776TW to N28714), as there was concern that the aircraft would receive unwanted further "attention" if it retained its original registration number.