Pilot was hailed as a
hero in '72 hijacking
Reginald Levy, 88, a pilot praised for his cool-headed bravery during a 1972 hijacking by Palestinian militants, died of a suspected heart attack or blood clot Aug. 1 in Dover, England, his family said.
Levy was a pilot for Belgian airline Sabena when he took off from Brussels bound for Tel Aviv on May 8, 1972 — his 50th birthday — with 90 passengers onboard.
Mid-journey, the Boeing 707 was hijacked by four armed members of the group Black September, who ordered Levy to land at Israel's Lod — now Ben Gurion — airport and threatened to blow up the plane if Israel did not release more than 300 Palestinian prisoners.
Levy's response was admirably calm, even though one of the passengers was his wife, Dora.
He kept talking to the hijackers to keep them calm. Sent to convey messages from the militants to Israeli authorities led by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Levy gave the Israelis detailed descriptions of the attackers' numbers, weapons and positions.
After almost 24 hours, commandos disguised as airplane mechanics stormed the plane, killing two of the hijackers and capturing the other two.
Among the commandos were Ehud Barak, now Israel's defense minister, and the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Several passengers were injured, but none was killed.
"Every one of us is lucky to be alive," Levy said after the attack. "I have had some tough times, but this was my toughest."
Levy's behavior earned him the admiration of Israeli authorities — and the enmity of Black September, which issued threats against him.
Born in Blackpool, England, in 1922, Levy flew bombers for the Royal Air Force during World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war, he took part in the Berlin airlift before joining Sabena as a commercial pilot. He retired in 1982.
Founding bass guitarist
of L.A. punk band Fear
Derf Scratch, 58, founding bass guitarist of the pioneering Los Angeles punk band Fear, died July 28 in Camarillo. He had liver disease.
He was born Frederick Charles Milner III — "Derf" was "Fred" spelled backward — in 1951 in Monmouth, N.J., and grew up in Temple City.
PASSINGS: Reginald Levy, Derf Scratch, Robert Tucker
Reginald Levy, hero pilot in 1972 hijacking, dies at 88; Derf Scratch, guitarist in L.A. punk band Fear, dies at 58; Robert Tucker, Soviet expert and Stalin biographer, dies at 92
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