Eastern Flight 1320

Sixty-eight passengers and a crew of five prepared for take off in the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, 1970. The flight, Eastern Airlines Newark to Boston Shuttle, Flight 1320, departed a little before 8:00 p.m. In the cockpit, the captain of the flight was 35 year-old Robert Wilbur Jr., a former Air Force pilot. His first officer, James Hartley, was 31.

During the early 1970s, it was common for passengers on the shuttle flights to pay for passage after take off, somewhat the same as paying bus fare. One passenger, John J. Divivo, told the flight attendant he did not have money for the fare and requested to see the captain.

He made his request with a .38 caliber revolver.

Wilbur, a brand new captain of only six months, was about to deal with a very real hijacking situation. When Divivo came into the cockpit, Wilbur and Hartley assumed the deranged man would request to go to Havana, Cuba—the normal destination for hijackings in those days. Divivo had a different, more sinister demand.

Divivo told the pilots to fly out to sea until they ran out of gas.

The pilots ignored him. Seconds later, the deranged gunman shot the first officer with no warning. Hartley collapsed and then Divivo turned the gun on the captain, shooting Wilbur in the arm. During the process, Hartley regained consciousness and was up and out of his seat engaging the hijacker. He was able to wrest the weapon away from Divivo, shooting the hijacker three times who then lost consciousness also.

Mortally wounded, Hartley relapsed into unconsDiviciousness. Wilbur declared an emergency, advising ATC that the hijacker had wounded his first officer and needed medical attention. He never mentioned the hijacker had also shot him. A few minutes later, when Divivo regained his senses, he started to rise from where he had fallen on the console between the two pilots. Wilbur, now in possession of the weapon, used it to beat the hijacker into unconsciousness again.

Wilbur did an outstanding job of flying the jet, getting it to the runway, landing, and dealing with ATC—all the while wounded. On landing, the authorities took Divivo into custody.

Divivo would never stand trial for his crimes; six months later while in prison, the hijacker managed to commit suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell.

Today, 41 years after the event, Wilbur says he rarely thinks about the hijacking. Each time he does reflect on what happened, he always pays homage to James Hartley, the man he considers the true hero of the flight.

-30-

© 2011 J. Clark

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53 Responses to Eastern Flight 1320

  1. My father put in 32 years with Eastern and got out and kept his pension as Lorenzo was doing what he got paid for to bust it up. Dad was a wheel and landing gear man. When he was on the line he did 30 wheel/break assemblies a day. By the time he left as lead man the entire shop of 40 could not finish 10 wheels a day. That kind of nonsense is what broke the airline especially when everyone got overtime to finish the regular time work. Dad said Eddie Rickenbacker came through the shop all the time and he met Borman a few times too. He’s 88 and this Christmas I went on the net and got him a golf shirt and cap with the old red bird logo. He was just thrilled.

    • Joe Clark says:

      Wow, Carl! What a great story! Few like your father remain who actually talked with the greats in aviation like Eddie Rickenbacker and Frank Borman. I agree with you wholeheartedly on “that kind of nonsense”–it is breaking more than the airline industry…

      Thanks for the snapshot into your father’s and your life.

      Joe

  2. Mike says:

    Hello Joe, What type of aircraft was Eastern 1320? Being a shuttle flight I would guess a DC-9. Thanks, Mike

  3. Danila says:

    I never got to meet my Grandpa Jim, he died 9 years before I was born. He was remarried when this all happened. Did you know Jim Hartley personally?

    • Joe Clark says:

      Danila,

      No, I never knew him. At the time of the hijacking, I was still a wet-behind-the-ears kid in high school, only dreaming of flying at the time.

      From my research, he is a person I would have very much liked to have known…

      jC

  4. jack leppert says:

    Yes, I knew Jimmy Hartley growing up in N W Miami. We were summer friends, one of about a dozen kids between 3rd and 5th avenues and 41 to 44 st NW. Great kid. a scrappy person as a pre-teen and beyond. Sorry to have seen Eastern Air go under and the dedicated Hartley building seem to disappear.

  5. Don Tysinger says:

    James Hartley was a friend of mine when we were teenagers in Miami, FL. I was with him the day his blind mother died. He was the most unlikely hero I could imagine. He overcame a lot of adversities to become a pilot. I worked for Eastern Airlines also. He will always be my hero and for saving those 73 people on board. GOD bless. Don Tysinger

  6. Bob Robar says:

    Hi Joe,
    Ran across this online and brought back memories…. I served 25 years with Eastern, all the way to the very last day.
    The Eastern Airlines pilot training building at Miami International airport was named for Jim Hartley……

    • Joe Clark says:

      Bob, it is really great to make your acquaintance if only over the ‘trons of the Internet. Thanks for adding more to the conversation on Jim Hartley. Such an unsung hero who undoubtedly saved many lives that day.

      jC

  7. Rob Wilbur says:

    Hi Joe. I’m Rob Wilbur, Captain Robert Wilbur’s son. I’m 46 and live in Central Jersey. I ran across your blog while helping my 10 year-old son Robert research a paper he’s doing on his grandfather. Needless to say, I’m very proud of my father, who never speaks of the incident. He always cites Jim Hartley as the true hero. A number of years ago, the daughter of a passenger on the flight sent a beautiful letter to my father, thanking him for that night in 1970. I’m glad there are people out there like you keeping the story of Eastern Airlines flight 1320 alive. In case anyone is wondering, my father is alive and well and will be turning 80 in March.

    • Joe Clark says:

      Hello Rob, it is nice to meet you if only over the electrons of the Internet. Thank you for the compliment.

      I am glad to hear your father is doing well. That he “cites Jim Hartley as the true hero,” does not surprise me. I am sure he is considered in the same light by many of those whose lives he saved. No matter how you cut it, your father and Jim Hartley made a magnificent team in dealing with a mental health case. Both of these pilots still serve as examples for the young pilots I teach today.

      And there could be no better role models…

      jC

    • CBC says:

      Robbie, I knew your dad when I was a Pan Am stewardess (“Blue Ball Express” as he called it) flying out of IDL (JFK). I have never forgotten Bob’s heroism in dealing with that EA1320 hijacker. I was in Texas, but it was all over the news. I believe when he landed, he asked the tower, “Where do you want me to park this thing?” as though he was OK instead of injured also.
      Your dad is a good man and a great pilot / captain. The folks at EA respected him and kept him on in operations even when there were layoffs.
      Later I worked for Continental Airlines and detested what Lorenzo did to EA, such a great carrier! There were so many hurt by that awful man.
      My old roommate from Argentina remembers your dad fondly as well.
      I’m glad he is still alive and doing well. Best regards to you and your family, CBC

  8. Barbara Perry says:

    In the book “Behind My Badge” by Captain Mike Rossman, there is mention of a City of Miami firefighter who went on to become a pilot with a major airline and was subsequently killed in a hi-jacking. Was James Hartley ever a City of Miami firefighter?

    • Joe Clark says:

      Hi Barbara,

      I don’t know. In a quick search, I found no reference to Mr. Hartley being a firefighter. However, given the makeup of his character, I would not be surprised if he had served with the Miami Fire Department.

      jC

  9. Deb Youngquist says:

    My father and mother were on this flight. My mother noticed a man with his hands in his pockets pushing the flight attendant up to the cockpit. They said after that, there were times when no one was in control of the plane. They were so grateful for the incredible bravery that followed. On their way home, a flight attendant was blowing up a balloon for some kids and the balloon popped (most of that flight were the same people returning from a business trip) They all hid down in their seats because it sounded just like the gun going off during the hijacking. My mother and father were never scared of flying after this ordeal. I attribute it to the pilot and co-pilot. And after all these years, I never realized this happened on my mother’s birthday. I have never forgotten the heroism these two men possessed.

  10. Kevin Brady says:

    I’m glad you are keeping track – my father is a retired
    Eastern Captain who is friends with Bob Wilber
    He is 93 and living in Tucson, AZ. Bob used to stop
    By our house in NJ and we have played golf together.
    It’s truly amazing he got that plane down – the scars on his
    arms are huge and I understand he lost a lot of blood. He and
    Hartely are BOTH heroes – I have a lot of airline experience
    and am writing a book about the earlier days if aviation and
    plan to add flt 1320 details – it’s an amazing story
    Best. Kevin Brady

  11. Dean Rowan says:

    My compliments to your Dad.

    Jetjackel

  12. Debbie says:

    Hi Barbara!

    Answer to your question, yes I recall my father being a fire fighter, He took my brother and I to the station from time to time, I really enjoying that! I was a real daddy girl, had the “BEST” dad a girl could ask for, he was “ALWAYS” my HERO!!!

    Debbie

  13. barbara perry says:

    Hi, Debbie,

    A City of Miami firefighter friend recommended I read “Behind my Badge” by Mike Rossman. (It took me a while to get my hands on it and once I read it, I gave it to a retired Miami FR friend or I would offer to send it to you.) In this book he references a fellow firefighter who died as an Eastern pilot flying in a hi-jacking. I did some research and it seemed that it might have been your father. It is a brief reference, but the author speaks highly of your father as I recall (I read the book a few years ago).

  14. Debbie says:

    Thank you Barbara! I will look for the book, I really appreciate you telling me this. I went to a very dark time growing without my father, I literally felt my life was over. I would have to say only now i’m able to accept what happened, and talk about it.

    Thank you!
    Debbie

  15. barbara perry says:

    I can only imagine your loss in the immediate aftermath and through the years. My heart goes out to you. Your father was a hero, but it cost so many a chance to know that person. And that hurts on many levels.
    My father survived Korea as a fighter pilot in the worst jet ever used by the Air Force and went on to live a longer life, although he perished in the first turbine GlasAir (AT9) at age 60.
    My husband flies a B-767/757 and aviation is a big part of our lives. When it intersects with interests of our Firefighter friends, it is of greater interest.

    No sell alert! Have you thought about a plaque in his honor at Udvar Hazy Smithsonian Wall of Honor at Dulles? We did one in honor of my dad.. https://airandspace.si.edu/support/wall-of-honor/dr-vernon-h-carter-jr
    Sending you every good wish.

    • Joe Clark says:

      To Debbie and Barbara, I am glad the two of you were able to connect through this blog. It is an amazing story!

  16. Pingback: Revisiting Eastern Airlines Flight 1320 | joeclarksblog.com

  17. Bob Robar says:

    The new Eastern has named their new training center as the James E. Hartley Training Center in Miami. So nice to see the Eastern memories kept alive…

  18. Kevin Brady says:

    Here’s my write up on the hijacking – My father was friends with Wilber and I have played golf with him – I spoke to him a few months ago –

    Kevin

    Bob Wilbur and his first-officer were true heroes

    It was a regular day in March, on a milk run shuttle flight from Newark to Boston, operating as Eastern Airlines flight 1320. At the controls was Captain Bob Wilber, a good friend of my father’s, a fellow Eastern pilot who visited us to play golf. His arms still showed two large scars from his hands to his elbows, a lasting reminder of multiple gunshot wounds he survived.

    Normally, gunshot wounds to the arms would not put you in grave danger. Not unless you happen to be the captain of a commercial flight at 5,000 feet altitude after your co-pilot was mortally wounded and a hijacker was in the cockpit with a gun intent on killing you and crashing your airplane. This was the situation Captain Wilber faced on St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, March 17, 1970.

    John DiVivo boarded the flight at Newark Airport bound for Boston’s Logan airport, with 72 other passengers and a crew of five. On board. Everything was normal until passing over Franklin, Ma. about 30 miles south of the airport. At that time passengers paid in-flight for the shuttle and were guaranteed a seat, without a reservation. If more passengers showed up that the plane held, they would pull out another plane. When the flight attendant asked for the $15.75 one-way fare, DiVivo said he didn’t have it and pulled out a .38 caliber revolver. He demanded to be brought to the cockpit, and she complied. Captain Wilber told the flight attendant to tell the passengers they were being diverted but everything would be fine. The pilots expected him to demand to be taken to Cuba “that was the destination of choice” said Wilber. This was long before the suicide hijackers of today. But DiVivo simply said, “take me east.”

    He then made his intentions clear that he wanted the pilots to fly until they ran out of fuel and crash the plane, so the co-pilot, James Hartley, grabbed for the gun and a struggled ensued. Hartley was shot in the chest, mortally wounding him, and he collapsed. DiVivo then shot at Captain Wilber hitting him multiple times in each arm, causing him to bleed profusely. Even in his critical situation, Hartley suddenly arose and was able to wrestle the gun away from DiVivo. Hartley shot him three times before relapsing into unconsciousness. But it was not enough. Although wounded and slumped between the two pilots, DiVivo arose after passing out and began crawling and clawing at Captain Wilber, attempting to subdue him and force a crash. The gun had fallen on the center console and Wilber was able to retrieve it and hit Divivo over the head, finally knocking him unconscious for good.

    Hartley had died from his wounds, and Divivo was slumped over, and partly on Wilbur, hampering Wilber’s ability to fly the plane. It is astonishing how some people can overcome almost impossible odds in a critical situation. Wilber was bleeding profusely and weakened by the bullets, with one slug remaining in his arm- he had extensive damage to his tendons and muscles and much loss of blood. Despite his severe injuries, he managed to remain conscious, declare an emergency with ATC and land the plane safely at Logan.

    A reporter at the Boston Globe said, “that was one hell of a piece of flying.” – an understatement if there ever was one. Once on the ground, Wilber keyed the mic and said to the tower “My pilot is shot-shot. Where the hell do you want me to park this thing?” He never mentioned that he was shot.

    Captain Wilbur spent almost a month in the hospital. Devivo was immediately arrested, and eventually hung himself with a necktie in his jail cell awaiting trial.

    Other than some major scarring, Wilber regained use of his hands and arms over time, and I can attest to the fact that he could hit a golf ball pretty well, better than most with two good arms.

    It certainly was a tragedy that James Hartley lost his life in an effort to protect the passengers and crew aboard flight 1320. He was the first person to be killed in a hijacking in the United States. James Hartley and his captain were proclaimed heroes and the Senate passed a resolution that commended them both for “extraordinary heroism and competence.” Wilber said that he was only doing his job. No training or simulator can prepare a pilot for what they went through, and I can only imagine that the 73 passengers are glad that these two pilots were at the controls.

    Bob Wilber is retired now and lives in Florida – he said “I don’t think about the flight that often, but when I do think about it, I think about Jim Hartley, he was absolutely a hero.” Eastern renamed their training center in Miami “The James Hartley Training Center” and installed a bronze plaque detailing his heroism.

    We throw around the word hero frequently today, and it has lost some of the original meaning. But Bob Wilber and his co-pilot were truly heroes on that fateful March day.

  19. barbara perry says:

    I was thrilled to hear from Debbie.. Would never have been possible without this blog.. Thank you!

  20. Debbie says:

    Dear Mr. Clark,

    I would like to thank you very much for posting your blog in reference to my father James Hartley. I just wanted to forget everything about my father because the pain was so deep, I did not know how to cover it other than tuck it away. Recently all I wanted to do is remember everything about him. I still cry at times, but people like you have made me want to join in and REMEMBER him for the HERO he truly was. Thank you soooooooo much!!! And Thank you, Barbara.

    • Joe Clark says:

      Debbie,

      Losing a loved one is hard. I miss both my parents, especially my mom who took on the lion’s share of raising my two brothers, my sister, and me. The only thing we can do is to cherish the time we are given with them.

      Your are very welcome. I am glad to have learned so much about your father through the research and writing about his and Captain Wilbur’s bravery.

      Joe

  21. Kevin Brady says:

    Joe,

    I would like to add more about JIm Hartley on my story about EA1320 – can you contact Barabra and ask if its okay for you to give me her email so I can get more info on her father? Thanks

    Kevin

  22. Debbie says:

    Barbara,
    I’m very sorry for your lost of your father as well. I went to the site you post, BEAUTIFUL picture of you two!

  23. barbara perry says:

    Thank you, Joe.. that is actually my father and stepmother. However that is the Glasair in the background.

  24. Kevin Brady says:

    Dani/Debbie and Joe,

    I added my write up in my travel blog to your Facebook page – James Hartley was truly a hero

    http://traveladventure801.blogspot.com/2015_06_01_archive.html

  25. Debbie says:

    Hi Joe & Barbara!
    I got to read the book Behind My Badge, THANK YOU!!! Barbara for telling me about it. I got goose bumps reading the part about my father. My daughter Dani opened my eyes saying, can you imagine how many lives he had a part in saving! I would not have known about his training as a fireman. Mike Rossmen in his book mentioned that he believes my father’s “background as a firefighter might have cost him his life because he was used to taking charge of dangerous situations and rescuing people. True to his training and instincts, he tried to take the gun away from the hijacker. It was his last run. Despite the consequences, he would not have missed it.” That makes sense to me and made me see things a little clearer. So I want to THANK YOU for telling me about the book.

  26. barbara perry says:

    Debbie, I am so glad you were able to read the book! Maybe you and Dani can locate Mike Rossman and learn more about your amazing dad/grandfather. I wish you both every happiness moving forward.

    Joe, thank you creating a blog that enabled us to connect and share.

  27. Lee Dee says:

    I knew Jim Hartley before he became a first officer with Eastern. He dated, and I think married a friend of a friend. Years later I flew with Bob Wilber when we were both employed with Saudia. I was just checked out as captain on the L-1011 and as per company policy we were to fly with a full line qualified captain for a period of time. Thats where I got to meet and fly with Bob. I had a good time with him and mentioned to him that I had also known Jim Hartley before he was hired by Eastern. As a side note, a few years later I was going home to Vero Beach, Florida on days off and passing through LaGuardia I was in operations requesting jumpsuit on some airline and noticed a plaque with the inscription ” Wilber Hartley Training Center” or something close to that, it was sort of discarded in a corner, I should have asked more about it but was in a hurry and didn’t want to delay going to the plane, looking back I wish I had.

  28. Cynthia Miller Annett says:

    I was a college student on a trip to New York City and flying back to Endicott College in Massachusetts on March 17, 1970. I went to my hometown in NJ to have dinner with my parents who then took me to Newark airport. Before boarding the plane I was stopped by John Divivo and asked if the luggage cart outside the door to the tarmac was the correct one for the shuttle flight to Logan Airport. A friend from college, who I was traveling, with went inside to ask and I was left standing there with him. I remember thinking at the time that he seemed a bit odd. He eventually boarded and sat a few rows behind us. I will never forget that day and the bravery of both Capt. Wilbur and Co-pilot Hartley. I owe my life to these brave men and have always wanted to thank Capt.Wilbur and Joe Hartley’s family. Due to what they did that day I have had a long and happy life and am a wife, mother and now a grandmother. There is no sufficient way to thank someone for saving your life, but I have thought about them through the years and I owe both of these men so much for their sacrifice!

  29. I just spoke to Bob Wilbur two weeks ago as he is a friend of my father’s – they were both Eastern pilots. We used to play golf together and he still has the gunshot scars on his arms. He is living in Florida and doing well. I think he is about 82. I am writing a travel book and have written up the story as well as having it on my blog. It’s an incredible story and doesn’t get enough attention when hijackings are mentioned – probably because Bob is humble and low key about it.

  30. Jim Hamilton says:

    Jim Hartley was a close personal friend of mine. I worked with him Flight Instructing in Miami, prior to when we both got hired by Eastern.
    I was conversing with him the day before he flew 1320. I was flying another DC9 trip from EWR to GSP to ATL the same day.
    He not only was a nice guy and a good pilot but one of the best instructors I ever knew. It is a shame that his full potential could never be reached
    Jim Hamilton

    • Joe Clark says:

      From all the very positive comments from many others on this blog, I would have to say I think I would have enjoyed knowing Mr. Hartley, professionally and personally.

  31. David Hope says:

    This is what makes the net & social media great! I have a job interview tomorrow, so I did a little digging on LinkedIn on the person who is going to hire me. The person is retired military and a retired pilot as well. This made me think of trips to Jersey as a kid with my Mom and Dad to my Uncle Bob’s house. It was long ago and we would go every other year or so and stay at the Wilbur’s home. I had to be between 5 and 10 when we would take these trips, but I have NEVER forgotten them or the story. Since I was a kid, the two things I have always remembered besides the heroic story where the large scars on Uncle Bobs arms and he also had a “model” of an Eastern jet on a desk or something in his home (man how I always wanted to play with that thing). I was just speaking to my wife tonight about Flight 1320 and told her I was amazed that there was never a movie made about the event. My wife wanted to get ready for bed since she works early, so being a musician and a night owl, I thought I would do a quick search regarding the event. I was so glad I was able to find this blog and other articles to confirm a lot of what I did remember. My Mother had a few of the details wrong, but pretty much all of the story was spot on. I was also thrilled to see his son Robert is writing a book, so hopefully it becomes a best seller and then a movie. We all know what Hollywood would do to the script, but still would be a great movie. Robert Jr, I will try and find you on FB and connect. Goodnight everyone!

  32. Dani Brown says:

    Hi David, this is Jim Hartley’s granddaughter. I will talk to Robert Jr. & try to connect you two.

  33. David Hope says:

    Not sure why, but to follow this blog I had to enter my bands email and not my personal one…… would not work for some reason. Have a great week!

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