Terrorist Hijacking of Pacifica 762 SQUAWK 7500 0944 Central Standard Time

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"Flaps one, climb power."

"Flaps one, climb power," Mike repeated, as he responded to the command of Gary Ellis, his new-hire First Officer. Mike positioned the flap lever from the "5" spot to the "1" spot and retarded the thrust levers to approximately eighty-eight percent of full power. This was the standard "after take-off" configuration and gave the aircraft its' best rate of climb in relation to burning the least amount of fuel. Pacifica Airlines Flight Seven Sixty-Two had just departed from Chicago's Midway Airport. On board the Boeing 737 were one hundred thirty-seven passengers, three flight attendants, and two pilots.

The flight had originated in Cleveland, with a stop in Chicago, before it terminating in Seattle, Washington. Mike had informed Gary, during the push-back in Cleveland, that he would take this leg even though, according to the rotation, it was Gary's turn to fly. Mike explained that he didn't feel a new-hire First Officer, especially one with limited time in the Boeing 737, possessed the necessary skill level to not scare the shit out of him while the "newby" attempted to land on Midway's notoriously short runway. His reluctance to let a Gary land at Chicago was based on historical perspective. Mike had been a First Officer for three long years before a Captain gave him a shot at a Midway landing.

However, the same restrictions did not apply to departures. Gary had executed a flawless take-off from Runway 4R and was at the controls of the Boeing. Mike was working the radios. It was a stunningly clear morning in the Windy City as both pilots constantly scanned the horizon, keeping a vigilant look-out for aircraft that were lining up to land at the other downtown airport, Meigs Field.

There were numerous boats on Lake Michigan; most of them sailboats taking advantage of the favorable winds. The combination of white canvas sails, deep blue water, and piercing sunlight compelled both pilots to reach for their Raybans. Just as Gary leveled the aircraft at their assigned three thousand foot altitude, a female voice with a pleasant Midwestern accent came through the pilots' headset.

"Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, have a good day, gentlemen, and contact Chicago Center on frequency 132.75."
"Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two switching to Chicago Center on 132.75, good day," Mike responded.

Mike dialed the appropriate frequency into the primary communication radio.

"Chicago, good morning, Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, level at three thousand."

Another female voice responded but this one wasn't quite as pleasing as the previous controller.

"Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two, turn left to a heading of two seven zero. Climb and maintain flight level one eight zero."

Mike acknowledged the clearance and set the assigned heading and altitude in the flight management computer. Gary engaged the autopilot and applied climb power to the turbofan engines. The Boeing, in response to the autopilot inputs, started a shallow climbing turn to the west. As O'Hare airport slipped under the nose, the navigation computer indicated 1,698 miles remaining to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Only three hours and twenty minutes until Mike could log another average day as an airline pilot.

Unfortunately, Mike and his crew had no way of knowing that life-threatening events were unfolding in the cabin. Pacifica Seven Sixty-Two would not make it to Seattle today.

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Captain Steve A. Reeves is author of fiction book SQUAWK 7500 Terrorist Hijacking of Pacifica 762 rue and it is true story. Book will be soon available on Amazon. Stay tuned.

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