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'American Skyjacker' Podcast Details 1972 High-Flying Drama At Lambert Airport

Sharon Matiyow, a flight attendant on the aircraft Martin McNally hijacked in 1972, talks with the podcast team.
American Skyjacker
Sharon Matiyow, a flight attendant on the aircraft Martin McNally hijacked in 1972, talks with the podcast team.

Aircraft hijackings have been rare in recent years. But a half century ago, they were a frequent occurrence. Between 1967 and 1972, 130 commercial airplanes were hijacked in the U.S. alone.

That’s according to a newly launched podcast that dives deep into a hijacking in which St. Louis Lambert International Airport plays a starring role. The 10-part series, “American Skyjacker: The Final Flight of Martin McNally," is hosted and co-produced by St. Louis-based journalist Danny Wicentowski.

"American Skyjacker" focuses on hijacker Martin McNally.
American Skyjacker
"American Skyjacker" focuses on hijacker Martin McNally.

The story is one Wicentowski has followed for years. His reporting was fueled by extensive conversations with McNally, who in 1972 chose Lambert as the spot where he would put into action his plan to hijack a flight in hopes of snagging $500,000.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Wicentowski about the drama that took place that day, and what went into turning the saga into a podcast series.

The first three of the 10 episodes are currently available, with further chapters set for release each Tuesday in the coming weeks.

Journalist Danny Wicentowski joined Monday's talk show.
Danny Wicentowsi
Journalist Danny Wicentowski joined Monday's talk show.

Wicentowski said that it’s been particularly exciting for him to listen to the new podcast come together following years of reporting.

“When I was writing these stories for print, I had recorded all of my interviews with [McNally], and I would be re-listening to these things over and over,” Wicentowski explained. “And all of the voices [of] everyone who had experienced this, their voices were in my head. And so my enjoyment of this — I kind of got to live this podcast mentally, in a way.

“And when I started hearing the clips that my fellow producers on this, Eli Kooris and Joshua Shaffer, put together, and just to see the way that it did fit, it was almost like hearing the soundtrack in my own head of putting this story together in words. … And I think as people have already started to hear, the best storyteller of this story is Martin McNally himself and his ability to grasp chronology, to tell a story well, minute by minute sometimes.”

AMERICAN SKYJACKER Podcast, Official Trailer (2020) from Pegalo Pictures on Vimeo.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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