Hijacking of an Air Force DHC-4 Caribou

04 Sep 1976

After civil war erupted in Portuguese Timor (East Timor) in August 1975, a DHC-4 Caribou (A4-140) was sent from No 38 Squadron to fly Red Cross personnel and supplies from Darwin. The aircraft was frequently used to shuttle refugees back to Darwin, until the Australia Government stopped the practice. When troops of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) heard that evacuation flights had been halted, they panicked and took over the aircraft. The crew was forced at gunpoint to take off with 54 people crammed on board the Caribou, instead of the maximum of 28 it was designed to carry. The aircraft wallowed towards Darwin at just 90 knots at an altitude of 1500 feet (457 metres), and when it landed had just 10 minutes fuel remaining. The soldiers surrendered peacefully, but A4-140 had become the first RAAF aircraft ever hijacked.

Related aircraft

  • Caribou