Ansett Airlines Flight 232

Ansett Airlines Flight 232

Infobox Airliner accident
name=Ansett Airlines Flight 232
Date=15 November 1972
Type=Attempted Hijacking
Site=Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Aircraft Type=Fokker Friendship
Operator=Ansett Australia
Tail Number="VH-FNI"
At 1:40pm on Wednesday, 15 November 1972 a man on Ansett Airlines Flight 232 from Adelaide to Alice Springs produced a gun about 30 minutes before landing and said to the flight attendant: "This is a hijack". The ensuing drama and gunfight in which the hijacker died and a police officer was injuredwas the first aircraft hijacking to have taken place in Australia.

The man, subsequently identified as a Czech migrant named Miloslav Hrabinec had boarded the Ansett Airlines of Australia Fokker Friendship in Adelaide with a concealed sawn-off .22 ArmaLite rifle and a sheath knife strapped to his leg. After leaving the toilet as the plane was making its descent into Alice Springs Airport, he announced his intentions and forced both of the flight attendants to the cockpit where he spoke to the pilot. He asked for a parachute and to be flown 1000 miles into the desert. The pilot convinced him to allow the plane to land where it taxied to an isolated part of the runway. After police negotiated with the man by radio, 22 of the passengers were permitted to leave the aircraft.

The man then demanded use of a light aircraft, pilot and parachute, saying that he would start shooting passengers if his demands weren't promptly met. A civilian pilot and flying instructor, Ossie Watts volunteered himself and his Cessna aircraft and local police constable Paul Sandeman posed as the navigator. Watts was the Aero Club manager and was given a police handgun. Police concealed themselves around the hangars as the Cessna with Watts and Sandeman onboard taxied to a position close by. The hijacker descended the stairs with flight attendant Kaye Goreham as hostage and the Ansett crew immediately closed the Fokker's hatch to prevent his return. Sandeman subsequently attempted to disarm the man but was shot in the hand and stomach during the struggle. As he tried to get away, Sandeman was shot twice more, in the right shoulder and left arm.

The other police and Watts opened fire on the man who had moved to a concealed position off the side of the runway. He then appeared to surrender by holding up his hands. As the police moved in, he opened fire again and police returned fire apparently injuring him. The man then shot himself under the chin. He died in hospital several hours later. The coroners inquest into Hrabinec's death established that he had died of self inflicted wounds.

Constable Sandeman was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery.

The identity of the hijacker was an entire mystery and at the time the Australian public was fascinated with the event and the hijacker, who was dubbed "Mr Brown" by the media.


*cite web|url=,25197,22730070-5012694,00.html|work=The Australian|title=Time Capsule: Hijack in Alice Springs|accessdate=2007-12-25
*cite web|url=|work=Aviation Safety Network|title=Hijacking 15 Nov 1972|accessdate=2006-09-16

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