After hijackers commandeered an Ethiopian Airlines flight in 1996 and it eventually ran out of fuel, one man stood to give passengers one last chance to hear a lifesaving message – the gospel of Jesus Christ.
About 20 minutes after Flight 961 took off from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on a flight to Abidjan, three hijackers stormed the cabin and demanded to be flown to Australia.
“The stewardesses started looking scared and upset,” British passenger Katherine Hayes told The Scottish Daily Record later. “Then this man came on the intercom. He said he had hijacked the plane and had a bomb.
Hayes says she was surprised that most people remained calm. “It was almost surreal,” she reported.
A man nearby borrowed Hayes’ book, as a dreamlike normalcy prevailed for a while. “This went on for four hours without food or drink, but we were OK,” Hayes told the Daily Record.
The pilots knew, however, there was not enough jet fuel to get to Australia. As the precious fuel drained away, Pilot Leul Abate spoke directly and firmly to the lead hijacker.
“Guy, we have 30 minutes to live. Unless you allow me to land and refuel, we can not make it to Australia. The only option we have is to die in the sea,” Captain Abate later told The History Channel.
The hijackers didn’t seem to care and refused his request to land at Moroni, capital of the Comoros Islands.
Then the inevitable happened. One of the engines sputtered and stopped.