On April 7, 1994, Federal Express Flight 705, a McDonnell Douglas
DC-10-30 cargo jet carrying electronics equipment across the United
Memphis, Tennessee to San Jose, California, was nearly
hijacked by Auburn Calloway, who the prosecution argued was attempting
to commit suicide. Calloway, a Federal Express employee, was facing
possible dismissal for lying about his flight hours. He boarded the
scheduled flight as a deadhead passenger carrying a guitar case
concealing several hammers and a speargun. He intended to switch off
the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder before take-off and, once
airborne, kill the crew with hammers so their injuries would appear
consistent with an accident rather than a hijacking. However, the CVR
was switched back on by the flight engineer, believing that he had
neglected to turn it on.
Calloway intended to use the speargun as a last resort. He planned to
crash the aircraft hoping that he would appear to be an employee
killed in an accident. He sought to let his family collect on a $2.5
million life insurance policy provided by Federal Express.
Calloway's efforts to kill the crew were unsuccessful. Despite severe
injuries, the crew fought back, subdued Calloway, and landed the
During his trial, Calloway claimed that he had been mentally ill, but
was unsuccessful. He was convicted of multiple charges, including
attempted murder, attempted air piracy, and interference with flight
crew operations. He received two consecutive life sentences. Calloway
successfully appealed the conviction for interference, which was ruled
to be a lesser offense of attempted air piracy.
2 Flight details
4 Popular culture
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
42-year-old Federal Express flight engineer Auburn Calloway, an
Stanford University and a former Navy pilot and martial
arts expert, was facing possible dismissal over falsifying of flight
hours. In order to disguise the hijacking as an accident, so his
family would benefit from his $2.5 million life insurance policy,
Calloway intended to murder the flight crew using blunt force. To
accomplish this, he brought aboard two claw hammers, two club hammers,
a speargun, and a knife (which was not used) concealed inside a guitar
case. Just before the flight, Calloway had transferred over
$54,000 in securities and cashier's checks to his ex-wife. He also
carried a note aboard, written to her and "describing the author's
As part of his plan to disguise the intended attack as an accident,
Calloway attempted to disable the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) by
pulling its circuit breaker to interrupt CVR power. During standard
pre-flight checks, 39-year old flight engineer Andy Peterson noticed
the pulled breaker and reset it before take-off so the CVR was
reactivated. However, if Calloway successfully killed the crew members
with the CVR still on, he would simply have to fly for 30 minutes to
erase any trace of a struggle from the CVR's 30 minute loop. About
twenty minutes after takeoff, as the flight crew carried on a casual
conversation, Calloway went into the back to get his weapons and
entered the flight deck and commenced his attack. All three members of
the crew took multiple hammer blows. Both Peterson and the 42-year old
first officer Jim Tucker suffered fractured skulls, and Peterson's
temporal artery was severed. The blow to Tucker's head initially
rendered him unable to move or react but he was still conscious.
49-year old Captain Dave Sanders reported that during the beginning of
the attack, he could not discern any emotion from Calloway, just
"simply a face in his eyes". When Calloway ceased his attack with
hammers, Peterson and Sanders began to get out of their seats to
counter-attack. Calloway left the cockpit and retrieved his spear gun.
He came back into the cockpit and threatened everyone to sit back down
in their seats. Despite loud ringing in his ear and being dazed,
Peterson grabbed the gun by the spear between the barbs and the
barrel. A lengthy struggle ensued, while Tucker, also an ex-Navy
pilot, performed extreme aerial maneuvers with the aircraft.
Tucker pulled the plane into a sudden 15 degree climb, throwing
Sanders, Peterson and Calloway out of the cockpit and into the galley.
To try to throw Calloway off balance, Tucker then turned the plane
into a left roll, almost on its side. This rolled the combatants along
the smoke curtain onto the left side of the galley. Eventually, Tucker
had rolled the plane nearly upside down at 140 degrees, while
attempting to maintain a visual reference of the environment around
him through the windows. Peterson, Sanders and Calloway were then
pinned to the ceiling of the plane. Calloway managed to reach his
hammer hand free and hit Sanders in the head again. Just then, Tucker
put the plane into a steep dive. This pushed the combatants back
to the seat curtain, but the wings and elevators started to flutter.
At this point Tucker could hear the wind rushing against the cockpit
windows. At 460 knots (850 km/h; 530 mph), the plane's
elevators became unresponsive due to the disrupted airflow. Tucker
realized this was because the throttles were at full power. Releasing
his only usable hand to pull back the throttles to idle, he managed to
pull the plane out of the dive while it slowed down.
Calloway managed to hit Sanders again while the struggle continued.
Sanders was losing strength and Peterson was heavily bleeding from a
ruptured artery. Sanders managed to grab the hammer out of Calloway's
hand and attacked him with it. When the plane was completely level,
Tucker reported to Memphis Center, informed them about the attack and
requested a vector back to Memphis. He requested an ambulance and
"armed intervention", meaning he wanted
SWAT to storm the plane. When
Tucker began to hear the fight escalate in the galley, he tried to
help his colleagues by putting the aircraft into a right turn then
back to the left.
The flight crew eventually succeeded in restraining Calloway, though
only after moments of inverted and near-transonic flight beyond the
designed capabilities of a DC-10. Sanders took control and Tucker, who
had by then lost use of the right side of his body, went back to
assist Peterson in restraining Calloway. Sanders communicated with air
traffic control, preparing for an emergency landing back at Memphis
International Airport. Meanwhile, after screaming that he could not
breathe, Calloway started fighting with the crew again.
Heavily loaded with fuel and cargo, the plane was approaching too fast
and too high to land on the scheduled runway 9. Sanders requested by
radio to land on the longer runway 36L. Ignoring warning messages
from the onboard computer and using a series of sharp turns that
tested the DC-10's safety limits, Sanders landed the jet safely on the
runway at 16,000 kilograms (18 short tons) over its maximum designed
landing weight. By that time, Calloway was once again restrained.
Emergency personnel and police gained access to the plane via escape
slide and ladder. Inside, they found the interior of the galley and
cockpit covered in blood. Calloway was then arrested and taken off
The crew of Flight 705 sustained serious injuries. The left side of
Tucker's skull was severely fractured, causing motor control problems
in his right arm and right leg. Calloway had also dislocated Tucker's
jaw, attempted to gouge out one of his eyes and stabbed his right arm.
Sanders suffered several deep gashes in his head and doctors had to
sew his right ear back in place. Flight engineer Peterson's skull was
fractured and his temporal artery severed. The aircraft itself
incurred damages in the amount of $800,000.
Calloway pleaded temporary insanity but was sentenced to two
consecutive life sentences (federal sentences are not subject to
parole) on August 15, 1995, for attempted murder and attempted air
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate #14601-076, is
imprisoned in the medium-security United States Penitentiary, Lompoc,
Santa Barbara County, California
Santa Barbara County, California as of February 2018.
N306FE landing at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in 2016.
On May 26, 1994, the Air Line Pilots Association awarded Dave Sanders,
James Tucker and Andrew Peterson the Gold Medal Award for heroism, the
highest award a civilian pilot can receive. In 2004, 10 years after
the incident and due to the extent and severity of their injuries,
none of the crew had been recertified as medically fit to fly
commercially. However, James Tucker returned to recreational flying
Luscombe 8A by 2002.
As of 2017, the
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft involved, N306FE,
remains in service as an upgraded MD-10 without the flight engineer
position, though it is expected to be phased out by 2018. The
plane first flew on December 6, 1985 and was delivered to
January 24, 1986.
Discovery Channel Canada / National Geographic TV series Mayday
(also called Air Crash Investigation or Air Emergency) depicted the
attempted hijacking in a 2005 episode which featured interviews with
the flight crew and a dramatization of the incident.
"Survival in the Sky" episode 6, "Sky Crimes", also features the
attempted takeover using audio between Air Traffic Control and the
The book Hijacked: The True Story of the Heroes of Flight 705, written
by Dave Hirshman, was published in 1997.
Accidents and incidents involving the
McDonnell Douglas DC-10
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 family
Air France Flight 8969
Air France Flight 8969 – another 1994 hijacking
List of accidents and incidents involving commercial aircraft
List of accidents and incidents involving airliners in the United
States § Tennessee
^ "Federal Express Corporation (FM/FDX)". Retrieved December 20,
^ "FAA Registry (N306FE)". Federal Aviation Administration.
^ a b c d e f g "Fight for Your Life". Mayday. Season 3. 2005.
Discovery Channel Canada / National Geographic Channel.
^ a b c d e f g h "U.S. v. Calloway". Leagle. Retrieved December 16,
^ "Jet Lands Safely After Attack on Crew". The Washington Post. April
8, 1994. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
^ a b Cockpit Voice Recorder Database, 7 April 1994 - Fedex 705,
tailstrike.com. Accessed April 7, 2012.
^ a b c d e f g h "Remembering
FedEx Flight 705 That Flew Upside
Down". August 19, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
^ National Geographic, Mayday (Air Crash Investigation or Air
Emergency). Episode (Season 3, Episode 4), "Fight for Your Life
^ "14601-076." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
^ a b "" AVWeb. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
^ "Federal Express (FedEx) Fleet Details and History".
Dave Hirschman and William Morrow (1997), Hijacked: The True Story of
the Heroes of Flight 705, ISBN 978-0-688-15267-3.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
FedEx Express Flight 705.
Cockpit voice recorder
Cockpit voice recorder transcript and incident summary
Clips from the air traffic control tape
Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
Aviation accidents and incidents
Aviation accidents and incidents in 1994 (1994)
Jan 3 Baikal Airlines Flight 130
Jan 7 United Express Flight 6291
Feb 24 Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise Flight 9045
Feb 28 Banja Luka incident
Mar 17 Iranian Air Force C-130 shootdown
Mar 20 British Army Lynx shootdown
Mar 23 Aeroflot Flight 593
Mar 23 Green Ramp disaster
Apr 4 KLM Cityhopper Flight 433
Apr 6 Assassination of Habyarimana and Ntaryamira
Apr 7 Federal Express Flight 705
Apr 14 Black Hawk shootdown
Apr 26 China Airlines Flight 140
Jun 2 RAF Chinook crash
Jun 6 China Northwest Airlines Flight 2303
Jun 24 Fairchild Air Force Base B-52 crash
Jun 30 Airbus Industrie Flight 129
Jul 1 Air Mauritanie Flight 625
Jul 2 USAir Flight 1016
Jul 19 Alas Chiricanas Flight 901
Aug 21 Royal Air Maroc Flight 630
Sep 8 USAir Flight 427
Sep 26 Vanavara air disaster
Oct 12 Iran Aseman Airlines Flight 746
Oct 31 American Eagle Flight 4184
Nov 3 SAS Flight 347
Nov 22 TWA Flight 427
Dec 11 Philippine Airlines Flight 434
Dec 13 Flagship Airlines Flight 3379
Dec 19 Nigeria Airways Flight 9805
Dec 21 Air Algérie Flight 702P
Dec 24–26 Air France Flight 8969
Dec 29 Turkish Airlines Flight 278
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