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Frontier Airlines hijacking

Frontier Airlines hijacking

April 13, 1972: A Los Angeles Police Department bomb disposal squad member, wearing protective clothing, watches a hijacked Frontier Airlines Boeing 737 jetliner parked at Los Angeles International Airport.

Staff writer Joan Sweeney reported in the April 14, 1972, Los Angeles Times:

A gunman hijacked a Frontier Airlines jetliner over New Mexico Thursday and forced it to land in Los Angeles, where, on a local radio station, he protested treatment of Mexican-Americans before surrendering.

After authorities accede to the hijacker’s demand for a live radio broadcast from the plane to be carried over two Spanish language stations here, the man delivered a rambling, 35-minute monologue in Spanish.

The hijacker’s message was carried live only on radio station KWKW while a KMEX television cameraman filmed part of the discourse in the plane’s cockpit.

The hijacker, identified as Ricardo Chavez-Ortiz, 37, an unemployed cook, then turned to the plant’s pilot and said, “Forgive me, captain…forgive me…I never had any intention of hurting anyone.”

He pulled the magazine from the .22-caliber pistol he had held on the crew since hijacking the plane 71/2 hours earlier. It was empty. He pulled a second empty magazine from his coat pocket and handed the weapon to the pilot.

He was immediately taken into custody by FBI agents and was later arraigned before a U.S. magistrate who set bail at $500,000.

The above photo by staff photographer George Fry was published on Page One of the April 13, 1972, Los Angeles Times late afternoon edition.

Chavez-Ortiz was convicted on July 24, 1972, of aircraft piracy and received a 20-year jail term.

May 29, 1972: Ricardo Chavez-Ortiz, accused of hijacking an airliner to bring attention to the plight of Mexican Americans, appears for arraignment at federal court with his attorney, Michael Hannon. He pleaded not guilty. This photo was published in the May 30, 1972, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Don Cormier/Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

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