Samuel Byck was born in Philadelphia in 1930. A high school dropout, Byck married, had four children and embarked on a series of unsuccessful careers ranging from the U.S. Army to tire sales. Byck’s frequent bouts with depression led to his divorce. Undergoing psychiatric treatment, Byck blamed his misfortunes on a government conspiracy against the working class. He attracted the attention of the Secret Service due to his denunciations of President Richard Nixon and was arrested picketing the White House dressed as Santa Claus in December 1973. He began writing rambling letters to public officials including journalist Jack Anderson, composer Leonard Bernstein, and Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff. In February 1974, Byck attempted to hijack a 747 jetliner from The Baltimore-Washington International Airport, with the intention of flying it into the White House to assassinate Nixon. He recorded a series of cassette tape commentaries as he drove to the airport on February 22. Having commandeered a plane on the runway, Byck became overwrought at perceived delays, and shot both the pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit before being wounded by law enforcement snipers. Realizing his plan had failed, Byck took his own life before federal agents could storm the plane. He was forty-four years old.
|Jeffrey Blair Cornel|