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Love-sick pilot who caused a scare in Frankfurt

9 posts in this topic

 

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On Sunday 5.Jan.2003 a then 31 year-old psychology student from Darmstadt stole a "Super Dimona" motorised glider from Frankfurt's Babenhausen airfield. Franz-Stephan Strambach then flew the aircraft to the Frankfurt city center and started circling the European Central Bank tower at low altitude. Coming less than 18 months after 9/11, it was feared that this might be a similar terror attack. The Hauptbahnhof and a part of the Frankfurt city center was evacuated whilst fighter jets were scrambled to intercept. See photos.

 

It turned out, however, that Franz Strambach was not intending to hurt anyone. Instead he wanted to draw attention to Judith Resnik, a female astronaut who died in space shuttle Challenger accident in January 1986. Apparently he had a fixation with her and intended to commit suicide once his fuel ran out.

 

Strambach called the family of the astronaut in Baltimore via ground control. He told them, "I will end my life today and be with Judith. I really love Judith... I am a big fan and hope that we will come together after all these years."

 

After two hours of flying around in circles, however, he gave up and landed at Frankfurt Airport where he was immediately arrested. Later in the year psychiatrists ruled him mentally unfit to stand trial. They said he had schizophrenia and a persecution complex. It was decided in November 2003 that he should be kept under psychiatric care "for the foreseeable future". His current status is not known.

 

Prior to his stunt, Strambach had created a website that was devoted to Judith Resnick. That site is still online today at judith-resnik.info.

 

Photo of Judith Resnik:

 

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Original BBC News article: Frankfurt flier 'has astronaut fixation'

Updated article: Frankfurt pilot 'too sick' for trial

 

Vaguely related TT topic: The bizarre life of Mathias Rust

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I wondered that too, not even the anniversary of the event or anything. Kind of unmotivated. Probably just any excuse to post a pretty picture, eh Bob?

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31 year-old psychology student from Darmstadt

Another case of a psychology student themselves requiring psychological care.

 

It's often the case that people who choose to study psychology are seeking answers about their own state of mind.

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I watched this live from my hotel room in FFM, was there for a week after new year, a few days b4 I started to work here in Munich.

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So this guy stole a SuperDimona. He didnt have a valid pilot's license at the time but just as with cars, if you no longer have a license that doesnt mean you totally loose the ability to fly/drive.

 

I used to fly motorgliders (Rotax-Falke) and stopped 4 years or so ago mainly due to costs. I believe that at a pinch I could still fly one AND I have access to one (like I have a key to the hangar).

 

Any thinking person can see that there is a great difference in the kinetic energy (let alone fuel) in a TMG (Touring Motor Glider) compared with a well-fuelled 767... Which made it rather remarkable that F4 phantoms were "sent to intercept" - they probably posed a greater danger by flying around near their stall speed. What were they supposed to do? Machine gun fire? How many would have been hit on the ground...

 

So the above incident "proved" to a number of Beamte & politicians (put under pressure by the media) that private pilots are the greatest potential source of terror attacks:

 

Nach einhelliger Expertenmeinung (???) gehen die größten Gefahren von den Privatfliegern aus.

 

So much for experts - not even the USA believes this - ignores the terror attacks by car bombs, rail travellers etc. Of course one doesnt intend carrying out a security check on each car driver... (OT: that might solve congestion on the roads...)

 

I wont bore with details of the "ZÜP"=Zuverlässigkeitsprüfung - the ZÜP would have neither stopped the Frankfurt incident (guy didnt have a license so it could not be taken away) nor the suicide crash of an ultralight on the lawns of the Reichstag.

 

Whilst the press was going on for several days on the above subjects over 40 people were killed on the roads but that doesnt interest anyone.

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Oh yes, that reminds of one more point that I had intended to include in my post above.

 

The end of that BBC article from November 2003 says:

 

 

Earlier this week, the German Government agreed that hijacked planes could be shot down as a last resort if all other means of grounding them had failed.

This decision, however, might be out-of-date.

 

See the more recent TT topic: Germany can't shoot down hijacked passenger planes - German court rejects terrorist hijack law

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Yes - that part of the Shilly-law was overturned. Unfortunately the whole law wasn't canned at the same time. It hasn't varied with the change of government (same Beamte).

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