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Unarmed Man Foiled In Highjack Attempt

March 8, 1987

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ An unarmed Spanish-speaking man who said he wanted to go to Cuba tried to hijack an Alaska Airlines jet Saturday but was overpowered by crew members, officials said.

Juan Tapanes, 30, was taken into custody by the FBI when the Boeing 727 arrived in Anchorage, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Paul Steucke. He was to be arraigned on a charge of air piracy, officials said.

There were 109 people on board Flight 93 from Seattle to Anchorage, and Steucke said there were no injuries.

The man pretended to have a pistol in his pocket, gaining access to the cockpit where he was subdued by the co-pilot and flight engineer, Steucke said.

″The hijacker was subdued and tied up by the time the plane landed,″ he said.

The pilot radioed that a hijacking was in progress about two hours after the plane left Seattle, Steucke said.

The man was was tied up with twine from a parcel carried on board by one of the travelers, passengers said.

Tapanes, who apparently does not speak English, told the FBI he had been living in the United States for seven years, Steucke said.

The suspect left New York City and flew to Los Angeles on Friday, then took another Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle earlier Saturday, the FBI said.

Steucke said there 102 passengers and seven crew members on board the flight that originated in Palm Springs and stopped in San Francisco before landing in Seattle.

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