Select Page

On October 19, 1999, I was a passenger on a hijacked plane flying from Istanbul to Cairo. After arriving safely in Egypt, I wrote the below email to friends and loved ones.

Years later, I encountered the Enneagram and determined I run the Type Six personality style. I returned to this email written by the 28 year-old me, directly after the hijacking. I discovered how rife this email is with Type Six qualities.

I’ve bolded areas highlighting Type Six characteristics. These include:  sensitivity to anything strange or out of the ordinary causally; searching for security by scarring oneself and planning for worst case scenarios (my “terrorism plan”); suspecting others; skepticism, disbelief & confusion; projecting my feelings (suspicion) onto others and reacting; calm in a crisis; fear of standing out, being a target; appreciation of support; and disarming friendliness.

You might also detect some of my Type Seven wing:  humor; making the best of the situation and planning for future fun (maybe I’ll see my friend!); boredom; and hoping for some excitement.

Perhaps you will discover more nuggets of insight into Type 6 & Type 7.

>Sent: Thursday, October 21, 1999 12:31 PM
>To: [Friends & Family]
>Cc: tjsanfran
>Subject: Flight from Istanbul
>I was feeling feverish the whole day that I traveled from Istanbul to
>Cairo. I blew enough mucous out of my nose to literally fill a gallon
>milk jug. It was ugly. I was NOT looking forward to recovering in a
>Cairo youth hostel. (btw, I am convinced its something I ate as I had
>stomach troubles as well).
>So I get on board my Egypt Air flight and I settle in for sleep right
>away. Luckily, the plane is far from full and I have the whole row to
>myself. About 15 minutes after take off, I wake up to hear shouting, I
>mean serious shouting, coming from the cockpit. My first thought: 
>terrorists! Then, I think, no way that cant be it. I come to the 
>conclusion that the captain is a very angry man and that he just blew
>up at the first officer or something.

>Everyone on board is perked up in their seats trying to see whats going
>on. Then the crew, who was scurrying up and down the aisles, all group
>up in the business class section and close the curtain. They come out
>later with smiles. One is sort of giggling nervously — I think that
>the captain must be a real ass to work for. I dose back off to sleep.
>I wake up much later — hey no food on this flight?
>I’m starving. And how long have we been in the air anyway? I thought 
>that this was an hour flight. This airline sucks. And the sun is
>setting on the left side of the plane (my side) — strange. I go back
>to sleep.
>I wake up to an announcement from the captain. I was a bit foggy, but
>it was something like: “I can now announce our destination. We are
>going to Hamburg where we will refuel and then we go to London. mumble
>mumble International Peace Federation mumble they are watching us all
>the time.” What the fuck? Now I am confused. Because I am totally in a
>haze I do not make any connections at this point.

>I go back to the bathroom and ask one of the flight attendants whats
>going on. He replies: “The captain has his orders. Us, we are all
>smiles. I am not worried, are you worried?” No I am not worried I say.
>But I am confused. Another woman explains to me that a terrorist with a
>knife attacked the crew, but I still find the story hard to follow and
>only get that the terrorist was subdued and we are flying to Hamburg.
>Later I learn from three Dutch girls that, no, in fact, the hijacker is
>still in the cockpit and we are in danger. One is crying uncontrollably
>and writing furiously in her journal, the other is stone silent and the
>third is cracking jokes and laughing.
>Bizarre. That does explain, however, why I saw the first mate with a
>bloody hole in his neck covered
>(poorly) by a bandage.
>Wow. Now, like everyone else on the plane, I am up to speed. And 
>suspicious — no one knows whom to trust!!
>I don’t believe that the guy only has a knife (hello?! a whole plane
>with a knife?) and I don’t believe he is alone. Actually, I don’t know 
>but I am not taking any chances. Its like Clue on acid in here. We know
>that at least one of the bad guys did it with the knife in the cockpit.
>I access the “Terrorism Plan” in my brain’s memory files — yes I had 
>actually thought out what I would do in such a situation. This is
>because I heard a while ago about a flight where the terrorists asked
>who the Americans on board were. One guy proudly stood up and the
>terrorists proudly shot him on the spot. I look around — I am clearly
>the only American on board, as I’ve already spoken to the other
>Westerners on board, 6 Dutch and 2 Finlanders.
>So, I take all my identification documents (including the passport that
>I now guard with my life) and stick them under the seat cushion next to
>me. Then I change seats — moving up two rows. This move alarms some 
>suspicion in just about everyone around me.

>Two plain clothes “security” guys — dressed in matching blue shirts
>and black pants no doubt to cleverly conceal their identities — are
>sifting about the passengers, changing seats and scoping everyone out.
>I want to ask them where the third stooge is.
>(Where were these numnuts earlier?) One sits next to me. With my hooded
>sweatshirt zipped up with hood on (its freezing!!) I look like the
>Unibomber. He eyes me suspiciously for about 15 minutes. I eye him 
>suspiciously for about 15 minutes. Finally, I ask him what time it is
>and I smile. He seems convinced that I’m not a threat — or maybe my
>sneezing and nose-blowing drove him off. He leaves.
>I am actually amazingly calm. And I don’t think its just because I was
>sick. I just had the feeling that this was not that big of a deal for
>some reason. For parts of the flight, I was actually just bored and
>hungry and tired.

>I start to get nervous when we land in Hamburg, as I realize that there
>is not a chance in hell we are leaving for London (though the thought
>of seeing Catherine did cross my mind and I was secretly hoping we
>would go there). When we land, I see all sorts of planes grounded — no
>activity at all in this place.
>Its all dark. We are sitting on the tarmac for about twenty minutes.
>Where are the police cars? Where are the squad teams? Hello?! Anyone 
>out there.
>I keep waiting for SOMETHING to happen. To be honest, I am kind of
>hoping that something will happen. I know it sounds crazy, but I really
>wanted to see something
>exciting: the terrorist comes back to the passenger area and screams
>and shouts (I never even saw the guy!), some other terrorist boards the
>flight, the police burst in, someone on board jumps up and announces
>that are also from the Peace Federation or whatever the hell it is.
>Clearly I am a product of American cinema — not understanding why the
>”real thing” isn’t nearly as exciting as the movies. Sick, I know, but
>its the truth. Of course, I can only say this now because, ultimately,
>no one was seriously injured.

>Then the captain comes back to the passenger area.
>He’s smiling. My crew and I have disarmed the terrorist and pushed him
>out the window. Is this for real? They PUSHED HIM OUT THE WINDOW?
>Smiles all around. People are clapping and shaking hands and hugging
>the captain. Someone snaps a picture, then suddenly, there are a
>million flashbulbs going off in the plane. Captain, take a picture with
>me — they are saying in Turkish and Arabic. This is just unreal. So I
>too snap a picture. What the hell, when in Hamburg…
>Then these buses pull up with and about 50 Germans armed with machine
>guns are all around the plane — apparently a whole team dressed in
>black were there the whole time. We board some bus, and one of the
>German soldiers explains that the Germans neutralized the hijacker.
>To cut the story short, they are all still VERY suspicious of all the
>passengers and we go through several checkpoints and searches and each
>of us is interviewed. We are allowed to make phone calls and they feed
>us (finally) and, on the whole, I am extremely surprised and impressed
>at how both the Egyptian flight crew and the German authorities handled
>the situation. The Germans had this whole thing down to a science, I’m
>not kidding, and I later find out that Hamburg has had several of these
>international incidents in the past, one quite recent

>Just when things are winding down, my name is called over the
>megaphone. The American Consulate in Hamburg greets me and asks what I
>need. He ensures that I am in the best hotel for the night (it was
>FABulous) and is just generally very supportive. I was actually very
>appreciative b/c clearly this guy rolled out of bed at 2 in the morning
>and came down to the airport when, in fact, there wasn’t really
>anything for him to do. (It still hasn’t sunk in that this was a big
>deal, but to be fair, I’m a little sick and very tired and, more
>generally a little delusional lately anyway).>So I get lots of great rest in a fabulous hotel with an equally
>fabulous breakfast (fresh squeezed orange
>juice!) and then we are off on the same plane to Egypt. I almost wanted
>to stay in Hamburg as the weather was a crisp-fall like scene and it
>really reminded me very much of Indiana in the fall. (My mom tells me
>that’s why a lot of Germans settled there).
>When we arrive in Cairo, the press is a MOB and the chairman of Eygpt
>airlines comes aboard to greet everyone, and the captain very
>emotionally thanks everyone for flying on board as it is a “tribute to
>me, my crew, and to Egypt.” (Egypt Air is the national carrier). Lots
>of hugs and handshakes and smiles among the passengers and crew.
>Now I am here in Cairo, just getting started on my trip here….
>Hope all is well. Love, Trent

Click here to learn more about the Living Enneagram approach of relating the nine personality types to the nine universal stages of transformation.

* * * * * * * * *

Typing Public Figures

Typing others is tricky business: often we miss the mark or deny others the opportunity of self-discovery. Such concerns carry less force when typing well-known figures. Public figures -- like politicians and celebrities -- voluntarily submit themselves to a certain...

Hillary Clinton – Type 1

What makes Hillary Clinton tick? This post was originally created during the time of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. As the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election heats up, people again are questioning the candidates’ temperaments to be Commander In Chief. Because...

Mad Men Enneagram

“Person To Person" -- the series finale episode of this hit show Mad Men -- provides a vivid, dramatic illustration of the inner triangle of the Personality Enneagram: 3 – 6 – 9. Don Draper runs the Type 3 personality style. The series finale tracks his journey from a...

Barack Obama – Type 9

What makes Barack Obama tick? This post was originally created during the time of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. As the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election heats up, people again are questioning the candidates’ temperaments to be Commander In Chief. As Obama remains...

Basic Goodness

The work of personal transformation can be difficult. It helps to remember our Basic Goodness. The Personality Enneagram shows us some pretty hard stuff. It describes nine styles of sleepwalking, nine habits of reactivity, and nine ways of generating and exporting...

Calvin & Hobbes Enneagram

This playful post traces the nine Enneagram energies in the life of a young boy named Calvin and his best friend, Hobbes. The below comic clippings show the characters of this beloved serial enacting the nine personality styles, patterns, and themes in many of their...

Donald Trump – Type 8

What makes Donald Trump tick? This post was originally created during the time of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. As the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election heats up, people again are questioning the candidates’ temperaments to be Commander In Chief. No one kind of...

Binary Enneagram: Seeing in Duality

Personality patterns are like computer programs. Ordinarily, we only see the surface of our preferences and behaviors without seeing the programming code driving them. The Enneagram provides a map for navigating deep investigation into our programming. Rather than...

Receive periodic emails with fresh insights and events.

Subscribers can download a free PDF of Nine Types Charts. Each chart overviews one of the nine personality styles and how it moves through the nine stages of change.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This