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John Jack Ridgway ( Cave Junction 1960 )

posted: Mar 27, 2021

Jack, 80, died January 4, 2021, in West Dover, Vermont. He was born September 25, 1940. Jack married Margit August 26, 1972. He jumped at Cave Junction 1960-61 and spent three years at Villanova University and one year at San Francisco State before going into the Marine Corps where he flew Sikorsky H-34s for three years including a year in Vietnam. Jack spent 35 years in the building trade and his occupation at time of death was listed as Real Estate Agent.

In September 1986 Jack was the Flight Engineer on Pam-Am flight 73 which was hijacked on the ground by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan. In the end there were 21 dead including two Americans. An even greater tragedy was averted by the quick action of the cockpit crew led by Jack. The terrorists has planned to destroy the plane once airborne killing themselves and the 400 passengers.

The 747 cockpit stood 32 feet off the ground. There was an "escape reel" but none of the crew had any training and were hesitant to use that system. Jack, recalling his smokejumper letdown training, exited the cockpit and notified authorities at the terminal. The pilot and copilot were still in the cockpit and hesitant to use the system, but finally did leaving the terrorists with no flight crew. After 16 hours of negotiations, the hijackers started shooting and throwing grenades. Jack was a NSA Life Member.