05 January 2010

Passenger Profiling? Ah yes, we remember that!

Pan Am jetIt used to be treated with a certain amount of derision by many people in aviation circles because they all remember the apocryphal tale from the first time it appeared, in the Sixties.

Back then, hijacking airliners was a new phenomenon, but by the end of that decade it was all the rage!

Cubans and revolutionary types from Latin America were hi-jacking American airliners on an almost weekly basis, and taking them off to Cuba, where, to the annoyance of the US authorities, they were welcomed with open arms.

One of the airlines, Pan Am I think, got fed up with their aeroplanes being nicked and went round the universities hiring psychology students to stand at airport check-ins, profiling their passengers.

A week after their teams had started, another of their planes was nicked. When it turned up on the tarmac at Havana, the press were there to meet the hijackers. The first one came down the steps sporting a full beard and wearing knee-high leather boots, a beret, sunglasses and a Che Guevara T-shirt!*

The profilers had missed him!!

(* For younger readers: The perfect cartoon stereotype of a 60s revolutionary)


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