John Testrake, 68, the pilot hailed as...


John Testrake, 68, the pilot hailed as a hero of the 17-day hijacking of a TWA jet in 1985, died yesterday of cancer at a hospice in St. Joseph, Mo.

He gained worldwide fame as he sat in the cockpit of a Trans World Airlines jet parked for more than two weeks on the tarmac at Beirut International Airport in Lebanon.

The Boeing 727, en route from Athens to Rome with 145 passengers and eight crew members, was hijacked June 14, 1985, by Shiite militiamen. The hijackers, demanding the release of hundreds of Lebanese from Israeli jails, of ten kept a cocked pistol at the nape of Mr. Testrake's neck.

One passenger, Navy diver Robert D. Stethem of Waldorf, was killed, but the other passengers and crew members were eventually released unharmed.

The most enduring image of the ordeal was Mr. Testrake being interviewed in the cockpit with a terrorist's pistol held at his temple. Mr. Testrake credited his strong religious faith for helping him withstand that ordeal, as well as the cancer discovered in 1994.

Manolo Fabregas, 75, a star of Mexico's Golden Age of cinema, died Sunday in Mexico City after suffering a heart attack. The grandson of Spanish actress Virginia Fabregas and son of actress Fanny Schiller, he appeared in more than 60 films, including "Aventurera" and "La Mujer Legitima." In 1972, Mexican filmmakers honored him with a Silver Goddess, the highest prize in national cinema.

Francisco M. "Cannibal" Garcia, 49, leader of the Cannibal and the Headhunters vocal quartet that epitomized Los Angeles' Eastside sound in the mid-1960s, died Jan. 21 in Los Angeles after a long illness. He recently had worked as a research nurse at the University of Southern California. He and his group were best known for their hit, "Land of 1,000 Dances," which reached No. 30 on Billboard's pop charts in 1965.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad