On April 7, 1994, Federal Express Flight 705, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 cargo jet ferrying electronics across the United States from Memphis, Tennessee to San Jose, California, experienced an attempted hijacking for the purpose of a suicide attack.
Auburn Calloway, a FedEx employee facing possible dismissal for lying about his previous flying experience, boarded the scheduled flight as a deadheading passenger with a guitar case carrying several hammers and a speargun. He intended to disable the aircraft‘s cockpit voice recorder before take-off and, once airborne, kill the crew using the blunt force of the hammers so their injuries would appear consistent with an accident rather than a hijacking. The speargun would be a last resort. He would then crash the aircraft while just appearing to be an employee killed in an accident. This would make his family eligible for a $2.5 million life insurance policy paid by Federal Express.
Calloway’s plan was unsuccessful. Despite severe injuries, the crew was able to fight back, subdue Calloway and land the aircraft safely. An attempt at a mental health defense was unsuccessful and Calloway was subsequently convicted of multiple charges including attempted murder, attempted air piracy and interference with flight crew operations. He received two consecutive life sentences. Calloway’s appeal was successful in having his conviction for interference ruled as a lesser included offense of attempted air piracy. he crew members were left with permanent, disabling injuries and have not flown professionally since.