Hijacked Jet’s Pilot ‘Knows His Job From A to Z’

Associated Press

The pilot of the hijacked TWA jet terrorized by Arab gunmen is cool under pressure and “knows his job from A to Z,” according to his younger brother.

“He’s a very professional airline pilot . . . very serious person,” Richard Testrake said Friday night of his brother, John L. Testrake, 58, of Richmond, Mo.

“He’s not an excitable person,” Testrake said. “He knows his job from A to Z.”

Testrake said he found out his brother was the pilot on the hijacked jet when a relative called to tell him.


“I was shocked,” he said. “This is just terrible.”

Since then, he said he’s been “glued to the television set” and listened to the dramatic taped conversations between the jet and the tower in Beirut.

Testrake said he believes the voice on the plane is his brother’s.

“There were several transmissions, and one of them was my brother,” he said.


His concern for his brother is mixed with anger, said Testrake, 46, of Erie.

“I’m completely outraged,” he said. “There’s been nothing but violence over in Lebanon for years. I just can’t feature a whole country involved in nothing but round-the-clock, wall-to-wall violence. I don’t see how people can live like that.”

Testrake said his brother’s wife was in Europe when the hijacking took place, and he hasn’t told his elderly mother, who lives in Ripley, N.Y., about the hijacking.

“Maybe this will come out all right, and we’ll tell her afterwards,” he said.


John Testrake began working for TWA as a flight engineer after the Korean War, became a co-pilot in the 1960s, and a captain “sometime later,” Richard Testrake said. He said his brother began flying international routes about a year ago.

“He was always thoroughly convinced that aviation is the safest way to travel,” Testrake said.