2 – When Faith Seems Thin

Read and be inspired. Here is a remarkable and brave, not to mention cool-headed, woman. Mary Dohey an Air Canada flight attendant who in 1971, in the face of overwhelming danger appeased the hijacker (talked to him) and as a consequence saved the lives of passengers and crew. She was the first living person to receive the award Cross of Valour, Canada’s highest award for bravery, for her conduct during the hijacking.

At the risk of losing her life, Dohey declined an offer of a safe release from an Air Canada DC8 to remain with her fellow crew members and pacify hijacker Paul Cini, on flight 812 from Calgary, Alberta on November 12, 1971. During eight hours of terror, the hijacker, with a black hood over his head, was armed with a shotgun and two bundles of dynamite. Mary had to hold on to the wires of the dynamite and not let them touch.[2] Cini threatened to take the lives[clarification needed] of the crew and all the passengers on board the airplane. Although continually threatened with the gun, Miss Dohey spoke to the aggressor and succeeded in discouraging him from undertaking violent measures which would have killed many people. When the aircraft was diverted and landed in Great Falls, Montana, she was able to persuade the hijacker to allow all the passengers and part of the crew, including herself, to disembark.[1] With absolutely no assurance that she would come out of the ordeal alive and because of her concern for the welfare of the remaining crew members, Mary Dohey turned down the offer of release. The hijacker wanted $1.5 million.[3] The plane landed and the demands were passed over. There was only $50,000[1] in that briefcase unknown to the hijacker. Mary continued to appease the hijacker until the drama was brought to an end.

Another hat tip to Rev. Master Koten for the link. The early 1970’s saw a number of plane hijackings. I remember the time well since I was flying back from Australia when there was a hijacking – thankfully not on the flight I was on. Can’t help but wonder what my response would have been had it been my flight.

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3 thoughts on “2 – When Faith Seems Thin”

  1. This inspiring story typifies the Canadian spirit, in my mind. As an American living just across the border from Vancouver, B.C. , who visits as often as possible, the Canadian people are kind, generous, and compassionate, as a whole.

  2. I have very little of worth to say about Mary Dohey or this fine post save this — thanks for reminding us that courage is (to me, anyway) the best of our human …. attributes or behaviours. We never know when we will be called upon to be brave, or to ‘step up’ in a dicey situation. But it is necessary that we do so when the need arises. I do not know where this sort of calm courage comes from but I am glad it does well up in some of us…because it makes more than a difference: it renews faith in the goodness of people, ands thus in life, and inspires us just to hear about it. Thanks for the reminder, Gerry.

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