16 July 1948

The storming of the cockpit of the Miss Macao passenger seaplane, operated by a subsidiary of the Cathay Pacific Airways, marks the first aircraft hijacking of a commercial plane.

The Miss Macao was a Catalina flying boat operated by the Cathay Pacific Airways. It was on a regular flight from Macau to Hong Kong with 26 people on board, including crew members and passengers.

During the flight, three armed men, later identified as Wong Yu, Ko Yuen-kan, and Chan Chiu, hijacked the plane. They demanded a ransom of HK$500,000 (Hong Kong dollars) and threatened to destroy the aircraft and harm the passengers if their demands were not met.

The hijackers diverted the Miss Macao to an isolated area in the Pearl River Delta, near Guangzhou (Canton), China. There, they waited for a response from the authorities. Negotiations ensued between the hijackers and the Hong Kong authorities, with Cathay Pacific’s director, Roy Farrell, acting as an intermediary.

The situation took a dramatic turn when the hijackers decided to detonate explosives on board the aircraft as a warning. They detonated a small charge that damaged the aircraft’s fuselage but did not cause it to sink or become fully disabled.

Eventually, the hijackers agreed to release all the passengers in exchange for the ransom money. The money was delivered, but the hijackers only allowed 23 of the 26 hostages to disembark. The remaining three hostages were released later.

The hijackers, however, did not manage to escape the authorities. They were arrested by the Chinese authorities in Guangzhou. The three men were later extradited to Hong Kong, where they faced trial and were subsequently executed for their crimes.

The hijacking of the Miss Macao passenger seaplane was a significant event in aviation history, drawing international attention to the issue of airline security. It highlighted the need for improved security measures and procedures to prevent such incidents in the future.