First hijack of an aircraft, commerical airliner
Aurel Dobrea
first first
Romania (Bucharest)

The first hijacking of a commercial airliner took place on 25 July 1947. On that day, pilot Vasile Ciobanu and flight engineer Mitrofan Bescioti (both ROM) took off on a scheduled TARS (Transporturile Aeriene Romano-Sovietice) domestic flight from Bucharest, Romania, to the city of Craiova (a distance of 185 km). Around 10 minutes after take-off, a group of disaffected army officers, led by Lieutenant Aurel Dobrea, stormed the cockpit and demanded the plane divert to Turkey. When Bescioti tried to resist, he was shot and killed. The plane touched down (presumably short of fuel) at the city of Çanakkale in Turkey, where the hijackers were promptly arrested and sent back to Romania. There Dobrea was tried and convicted of murder.

Interestingly, the pilot of the plane also fell foul of Romania's communist government. He had formerly been the personal pilot of King Mihai and that, combined with his apparent involvement in an attempted defection, was enough for him to be tried and convicted for treason. He served 16 years hard labour before being released in 1966. He died in a tram accident in 1982.

There are several earlier incidents involving aircraft being commandeered on the ground, but only one that involved a mid-air hijacking and that was of a two-seater military aircraft, not an airliner. The first hijacking of any kind took place in 1919, and was carried out by the eccentric Hungarian aristocrat Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás.