- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2001

DEMING, N.M. (AP) Authorities were searching yesterday for a man who held a knife to the neck of a pilot and attempted to hijack a medical transport plane before fleeing a tiny airport in New Mexico.
FBI supervisory Agent Doug Beldon said Friday night's incident appeared to be isolated and unrelated to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. No arrests have been made.
The University of New Mexico Hospital plane arrived at the Deming Municipal Airport around 9:45 p.m. to transport a child at Mimbres Memorial Hospital to Albuquerque. Paramedics had gone to get the baby and the pilot stayed behind.
A man entered the back door of the plane and put a knife to the neck of the pilot and said, "Let's fly," Mr. Beldon said.
"It was very dark," he said. "The pilot certainly felt the knife to her neck."
The man was carrying a knife and a radio or police scanner. The pilot started the King Air twin turbo-prop plane and headed down the runway when the back door opened and made a loud crashing noise. The pilot veered off the runway, Mr. Beldon said.
"Just after she veered off the runway, he struck her in the head three times with the radio device," he said. He said the man periodically repeated a word that sounded like "salama." Mr. Beldon could not identify the language of the word or give the exact spelling.
"He did speak with a foreign accent," which did not seem to be Spanish, Mr. Beldon said.
The pilot was taken to a Deming hospital, where she was treated and released yesterday morning. The FBI and officials with Seven Bar Flying Service would not release the name of the pilot.
UNM hospital spokesman Sam Giammo said another plane was immediately dispatched to transport the child to Albuquerque, 200 miles north of Deming.

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