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TAA DC-9 hijack captain dies

written by | April 16, 2012

Captain Grahame Mackelmann, the Captain of TAA DC-9 VH-TJJ which was involved in an attempted hijacking by an armed passenger on a Coolangatta-Brisbane flight in June 1979, passed away on April 11.

“Grahame will be sorely missed by those of us who had the privilege to know and  work with him,” says former colleague and AA contributor Doug Macdonald.

Capt Mackelmann and flight attendant Esme Qazim were awarded the Star of Courage, the nation’s second highest civilian gallantry award, for their roles in the hijack incident.


After a considerable crew effort the aircraft was averted from being plunged into the Brisbane CBD, landing safely at Brisbane airport, where Capt Mackelmann rapidly discharged the passengers onto the grass at the end of the runway allowing them to escape the hijacker.

Capt Mackelmann’s son Craig was killed in May 1986 when his RAAF Mirage crashed off the NSW coast in controversial circumstances.

He is survived by his wife Grace and daughter Anne.

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