Is Netflix's The Hijacking of Flight 601 based on a true story?

Still from trailer (Image via netflix.com)
Still from the series trailer (Image via Netflix.com)

Netflix's latest drama The Hijacking of Flight 601 is based on the hijacking of Sam Columbia Flight HK-1274. The real-life incident occurred on May 30, 1973, when the plane was scheduled to fly from Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport in Cali to José María Córdova International Airport in Medellín, with a stop at Matecaña International Airport in Pereira.

The hijacking was perpetrated by two former Paraguan football players, who initially claimed affiliation with the radical revolutionary group National Liberation Army.

The Hijacking of Flight 601 is adapted from a book by the Italian writer Massimo Di Ricco named Los Condenados del Aire was released on April 10, 2024.


The Hijacking of Flight 601 is based on what happened with SAM Colombia Flight HK-1274 in 1973

Still from the trailer (Image via Netflix.com)
Still from the trailer (Image via Netflix.com)

The Hijacking of Flight 601 follows Edie, played by Monica Lopera, who is a flight attendant for Aerobolivar, and is due to work on flight 601 out of Bogota. Struggling to manage her home and kids, she ends up losing her job. However, she is later asked by her employer to attend a flight that two gunmen have hijacked in Pereira.

The real-life incident that inspired The Hijacking of Flight 601, took place in 1973 when two former football players hijacked the HK-1274 plane of the Sociedad Aeronáutica de Medellín, known as SAM. The plane took off on Wednesday, May 30, from Bogotá. Their first stop was in Cali, then, the plane made another stop in Pereira, where new passengers boarded. For the total 84 passengers, everything was quiet until the plane took off.

The Hijacking of Flight 601 stands out not only as the lengthiest in Latin American history but also as the most extensive in terms of distance covered. For nearly three days, the plane was redirected multiple times across various cities, logging a staggering distance of 10,000 miles. As the hijacking progressed, the hijackers sought notoriety and aimed to set a record for its duration.


Who were the Hijackers and what were their demands

Still from the trailer (Image via netflix.com)
Still from the trailer (Image via netflix.com)

The hijackers were two former football players, Eusebio Borja and Francisco Solano López. In the series, their roles have been portrayed by Valentín Villafañe and Alián Devetac, respectively.

They initially claimed to be revolutionaries, affiliated with the radical resistance group National Liberation Army. They had two demands, a ransom of $200,000 and the release of dozens of guerrillas from prison by the Colombian government.

The hijackers later confessed to the crew that their motivation behind the terrorism was solely financial. Francisco Solano López was later apprehended by Paraguayan police and subsequently extradited to Colombia, but Eusebio Borja jumped out of the plane during a brief stop in Resistencia and has never been found.

"We will not negotiate with seditionists or outlaws," Colombian president Misael Pastrana Borrero said in a statement regarding the hijacking.

What happened to Flight 601 and its passengers at the end of The Hijacking of Flight 601

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The plane reportedly landed in Medellín, Guayaquil, Lima, Asuncíon, Resistencia, Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Oranjestad, and Aruba, covering six different countries.

"We thought it was a joke," hostage Luis Reátegui, a competative cyclist who boarded the plane, and initially thought that the hijacking was a joke until the hijackers started manhandling the flight attendant.

The uncertainty of the situation during the three-day-long hijacking took a mental and physical toll on the passengers. There were several crew and pilot changes during the hijacking, and the gunmen released passengers at several stops.

By the time the aircraft made its final landing in Argentina, where Solano López was apprehended, all captives had either been released or had successfully escaped.


The bizarre events behind the Spanish-language show The Hijacking of Flight 601 provide the story with a riveting plot, high-stakes drama, and compelling characters. The six-episode mini-series incorporates its source material brilliantly to weave a tense and suspenseful narrative.

Directed by C.S. Prince and Pablo González, the Netflix flick The Hijacking of Flight 601 stars Mónica Lopera, Christian Tappan, and Enrique Carriazo in prominent roles.

Edited by Jeevak Ambalgi
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