The term "hijacking" goes back to prohibition days, when gangsters would rob moonshine trucks saying, "Hold your hands high, Jack!" However, in the early days of commercial air travel, the idea that someone would hijack a plane was scarcely even considered.
When the government started to oversee aviation in 1958, the congressional law did not even make hijacking a crime and the early design of airport terminals reflected this mentality. Airports were once more like train stations, where you walk through the terminal and onto the tarmac, and sometimes straight onto the plane itself, without flashing a ticket or showing anyone your identification.
Then in 1961, an epidemic of hijackings began.
For this story, Roman spoke with Brendan Koerner, author of The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking.