Philadelphia Man Tries to Kill Nixon – With an Airplane


Police Officer and Airline Pilot Killed in Bizarre Attempt 

On February 22, 1974, a man from Philadelphia attempted to hijack a commercial airliner in an attempt to kill the President.  Samuel Byck was attempting to steal the plane and fly it into the White House, knowing that Nixon was supposed to be present on that day. 

Byck was suffering from depression after a nasty divorce and several failed business ventures.  He began to obsess that President Nixon was leading a conspiracy to oppress the poor.  He determined that it was necessary to kill the President to stop the government’s oppression.  He began to track Nixon’s movements through media reports.  

On February 22, 1974, Byck stole a friend’s .22 revolver and drove to Baltimore Washington International Airport.  He entered the airport and was making his way onto the tarmac when he was stopped by Police Officer George Ramsburg.  Byck shot and killed the officer and rushed onto a Delta DC9 that was getting ready to take off.

Barging in to the cockpit, Byck tried to get the pilots to take off.  When pilots Doug Loftin and Fred Jones tried to stall, Byck shot them both.  Jones would later die from his injuries.  

By this time police responded onto the tarmac and were attempting to stop the crazed hijacker.  Responding cops tried the old “shoot out the tires” trick to prevent the plane from taking off.  The .38 rounds just bounced off the thick tires, damaging the plane.  

Police decided to take a more direct approach and shot directly at Byck when they observed him in the cockpit.  The bullets were able to penetrate the plane, and Byck was injured.  Before the police could move in to arrest him, Byck shot and killed himself. 

Nixon was safe for now, but the freight train that was the Watergate Scandal was on the horizon.  The President survived the assassination attempt but wouldn’t make it through the summer in office.   

Christopher Flanagan
photo By, Fair use,


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