Miss Macao is hijacked!
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In 1948, the Miss Macao, a Catalina seaplane, owned by Cathay Pacific Airways and operated by a subsidiary, became the victim of the first ever hijacking of a commercial aircraft. The hijacking was carried out by four men including Huang Yu, a rice farmer, Chiu Cheong, and Mexican born Chiu Tok, who led the group as he knew how to operate an airplane after training in the Philippines.
The men had decided that piracy might afford them a better lifestyle since the Pearl River Delta was very much a lawless zone rampant with piracy and kidnappings for ransom, and so the men pooled their resources to put together the operation.
This particular flight was chosen because it was known to carry wealthy passengers between Hong Kong and Portuguese Macao. Dressed in western style business suits, the men boarded the plane and immediately after takeoff, Chiu Tok, who had been seated behind the pilot, demanded that he surrender the controls. Though three of the hijackers were armed, the pilot, Dale Warren Cramer, refused to surrender as the co-pilot, the Australian Ken McDuff, attacked one of the intruders with a flag-post rod.
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In the confusion, Cramer was shot dead, and collapsed onto the flight controls sending the plane into an uncontrolled dive where it crashed into the Pearl River Delta. Twenty-five of the twenty-six people aboard died in the crash, one of whom was the millionaire bullion dealer Wong Chung-ping who had actually been carrying a substantial quantity of gold in his luggage.
The sole survivor actually turned out to be one of the hijackers, Huang Yu, who was found unconscious in the water by a couple of fishermen who witnessed the crash from their boat and took him to the hospital. Initially, Huang Yu remained silent about what had happened, but when another body was found in the water, this one with a bullet wound in it, piracy became the prime theory. However, because of Huang Yu’s silence, police hid audio recording equipment in his hopsital room to record conversations he had with family members. Baed on these tapes, the police were able to piece together the true narrative and Huang Yu’s involvement in the events.
Upon his arrest, he was brought to court by the Macau police, but a strange twist occurred. The Macau court suggested that the prosecution should actually be brought in Hong Kong since the plane was registered in Hong Kong and most of the passengers were from there. However, the British colonial government in Hong Kong stated that the incident happened over Chinese territory in which the British have no jurisdiction. Since no state claimed authority to try him, Huang was released without trial from a Macau prison three years afterwords on June 11, 1951, and was then deported to China – never to be heard from again.