Captain Uri Bar Lev is a 93-year-old retired El Al pilot who currently resides in the moshav of his childhood near Netanya, Israel. He also made aviation history as the only pilot to successfully thwart an in-air hijacking.
In 1948, Captain Bar Lev was a teenage pilot during Israel’s War of Independence and later in the 1956 War. On September 6, 1970, he was the pilot of El Al Flight 219, en route from Tel Aviv to New York via Amsterdam when two hijackers threatened the crew and passengers.
Demonstrating remarkable skill and bravery, Captain Uri executed a move reminiscent of the “Split S” combat maneuver employed during World War I, effectively preventing the hijacking. He initiated a dive, lowering the plane’s altitude to minimize the potential impact of any explosion or damage. The sudden descent caught the hijackers off guard, causing them to lose their footing and fall to the ground. It was then that the air marshal swiftly neutralized one of the hijackers. Meanwhile, the second hijacker was apprehended after losing consciousness due to the dramatic shift in air pressure. Captain Bar Lev’s heroic actions not only saved the lives of those on board El Al Flight 219 but also prevented a potential disaster.
Today, Captain Uri enjoys a peaceful life in Israel, and next month he will be celebrating his 94th birthday!