Hijacker Dies After Makeshift Parachute Fails

From Associated Press

The body has been found of a man who tried to hijack a Philippine Airlines jet with 291 people on board, then bailed out at 6,000 feet wearing a homemade parachute, authorities said today.

Soldiers recovered the body of Augusto Lakandula about 40 miles east of Manila in a heavily forested area after residents reported seeing a parachute landing Thursday afternoon, a military official said.

The improvised parachute was with Lakandula but not the money he took from the others aboard the plane, the official said. Lakandula was identified through his seat number on the plane.

Officials theorized that the parachute opened after the leap from the Airbus 330, then failed.

Lakandula, crying and wearing a ski mask and swim goggles, tried to hijack the jet Thursday. When told that fuel was low, he instead robbed everyone and bailed out, authorities said.

About an hour into the 600-mile flight to Manila, the capital, Lakandula--armed with a grenade and a pistol--ordered the pilot to return to Davao in the southern Philippines.

The plane was de-pressurized so that Lakandula could jump from 6,000 feet with his parachute.

A flight attendant said she opened the door for Lakandula and had to help him out. Mike Turoff, a commercial pilot in Houston, said the Airbus can fly slower than 200 mph but that even that is more than twice the recommended speed for skydiving.

"Pity this flight attendant who helped him," Turoff said. "Talk about being in mortal danger!"

And of the homemade parachute, Turoff added: "Whoever this guy is, God--talk about dumb!"

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