The viral story of a young hijacking heroine from 33 years ago is a must read

Many of us are too young to remember the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 of 1986, much less any details about it. But thanks to a viral Facebook post from Misfit History, some attention is being shed on an incredible heroine who saved many American lives in the standoff.

The post reads:


I'd sit down for this one. It's a doozy. Neerja Bhanot was the Senior Flight attendant on the infamous Pan Am Flight 73 of 1986. The plane was scheduled to fly from Mumbai to the United States. Before takeoff four hijackers boarded the plane at Karachi airport in Pakistan and held 380 passengers and 13 crew members hostage at gun point in a 17 hour stand off. When the hijackers demanded the passports of the Americans on board to take those passengers as collateral for a trade, Bhanot hid the passports under seat cushions, flushed them down the toilet and threw them down the trash shoot. Unable to decipher the American passengers from non-American passengers the situation escalated as the hijackers began shooting and detonating explosives. Bhanot deployed the emergency escape doors and began frantically guiding passengers out of the plane. One of the last to remain, a hijacker grabbed her by her ponytail and shot her point blank while she was shielding three American children from gun fire. She died at 22 the day before her birthday. She saved the majority of the passengers and the flight crew.

RELATED: This flight attendant had a gut feeling about human trafficking. So he followed it.

Naturally, we shouldn't assume everything we read in a viral Facebook post to be factual, but it doesn't take much research to find that despite a few minor details (e.g., her title was technically "flight purser," not flight attendant) this story is true. And in fact, there's even more that's not included here.

In 2004, Bhanot was the first woman and youngest person to be given the Ashoka Chakra award, the highest civilian honor in India given for bravery. In 2006 she was posthumously awarded the Special Courage Award by the US Department of Justice, an honor which "recognizes an individual or individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary bravery in the aftermath of a crime or who have performed a courageous act on behalf of a victim or potential victim."

According to at least one source, a 7-year-old child she shielded during the attack grew up to become a pilot himself and credits her with saving his life.

A movie was even made about her life in India in 2016, simply titled "Neerja." You can see the trailer for it here, but fair warning—you may want to grab a tissue first:

Neerja www.youtube.com

I may be wrong about this, but I don't think many Americans are aware of Ms. Bhanot and her heroism. I'm in my mid-40s, and I don't think I've ever seen this story. She appears to be better known in India, despite the fact that she helped save scores of American lives before she was killed.

It's also worth pointing out that Bhanot wasn't the only hero from that day. Surviving members of the crew shared their memories of the hijacking with BBC in 2016, and so many deserve credit for their life-saving decisions and actions.

RELATED: How a United Airlines crew handled an autistic 4-yr-old's meltdown is pure human excellence

Many unsung heroes' stories never get told or don't receive the recognition they should. Thank you, Misfit History, for sharing Neerja Bhanot's story so more of us get a chance to learn about it.

Albert Einstein

One of the strangest things about being human is that people of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate how smart they are and people who are highly intelligent tend to underestimate how smart they are.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s proven every time you log onto Facebook and see someone from high school who thinks they know more about vaccines than a doctor.

The interesting thing is that even though people are poor judges of their own smarts, we’ve evolved to be pretty good at judging the intelligence of others.

“Such findings imply that, in order to be adaptive, first impressions of personality or social characteristics should be accurate,” a study published in the journal Intelligence says. “There is accumulating evidence that this is indeed the case—at least to some extent—for traits such as intelligence extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and narcissism, and even for characteristics such as sexual orientation, political ideology, or antigay prejudice.”

Keep Reading Show less

"I now pronounce you, in debt. You may kiss the bride."

In 1964, Paul McCartney of the Beatles famously sang, “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.” While Mr. McCartney’s sentiments were definitely a major foreshadowing of the hippie, free-love movement that was to come in the ‘60s, it appears as though he was also onto a big truth that wouldn’t be proven for another 50 years.

Seven years ago, researchers Hugo M. Mialon and Andrew Francis-Tan from Emory University embarked on the first study to determine whether spending a lot on a wedding or engagement ring meant a marriage would succeed or fail.

The pair wanted to see if the wedding industry was being honest when it came to claims that the more money a couple spends, the more likely they are to stay together.

“The wedding industry has consistently sought to link wedding spending with long-lasting marriages. This paper is the first to examine this relationship statistically,” the researchers wrote.

Keep Reading Show less

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande duked it out on Jimmy Fallon's 'The Tonight Show.'

There are pop stars, and then there are singers. While recording studio technology can make people sound like amazing singers, the proof is in their live performances.

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande took it a whole step further on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," delivering not only a jaw-dropping live performance but doing so in the form of revolving pop diva hits in an "impossible karaoke" showdown. In less than five minutes, they showed off their combined ability to nail pretty much anything, from imitating iconic singers' styles to belting out well-known songs with their own vocal stylings.

Watch this and try not to be impressed:

Keep Reading Show less