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]
>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
>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
>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