Last week news headlines featured the story that a flight from Melbourne had been forced to turn around after a passenger on board claimed to have a bomb, and now the full details of what took place have emerged, and they feature two brave Aussie surfers on their wave to meet the swell of the year at Nias.
Fabio Contu and Troy Joyner were just settling in for the overnight flight to Kuala Lumpur last Wednesday when they heard a commotion. A man had stood up in his seat, drawing the attention of the air stewards, who asked him sit back down, as the plane was still ascending. He apparently refused, instead making his way into the aisle, claiming that he had a bomb and was taking it to the pilot.
“We sat stunned with what we had just heard,” Troy told the Sentinel. “I could see the panic starting to set in. I could hear the cabin crew talking in a different language with panic in their voice. We were scared that there was a bomb on the plane, and the man was going to blow us up. We both feared for our lives.”
Moments later the man came running back down the aisle, at which point a female stewardess placed herself in his path and told him forcefully to ‘stop’.
“As he approached she yelled out ‘help’.” explained Troy . “We didn’t need any more instruction, Fab and I jumped out of our seats.”
“The man ran into the stewardess, I grabbed him by the neck and put him in choker hold. Fab was right behind me and grabbed the passenger around the torso.”
The pair, aided by other passengers, held the man’s arms away from his body whilst they searched him for the bomb. “I saw a black device about 40cm round and 6 inches high. I ripped it off the offender and passed it to a nearby passenger, then I checked his hands to make sure he wasn’t holding a trigger mechanism – they were empty” said Fabio.
The offender was put on the ground chest down, with his hands cable tied behind his back and secured to the frame of a seat. However the fear that there was a bomb on board which could detonate at any moment remained and Troy describes how all he could think about was that he may never see his wife and two boys again. “We thought we were going to die,” he said.
The plane was turned around and soon safely landed back in Melbourne, where the threat was thankfully determined to be a hoax, and after 90 minutes tense minutes on the tarmac, with the assailant still on board, the passengers were allowed to disembark.
“We are thrilled with the outcome, and that we are all safe. Although we have since learned it was a hoax, the trauma and stress is very real for all of those who were on board,” Troy and Fabio said.
“Now we just want to go surfing.”
Cover photo: Diego Santos at Nias