February 19, 1979. We were escorted by Iranians in a caravan of buses to the airport from the Tehran Royal Hilton having stayed there the night before. The evacuation flight was a Pan Am 747 flight to Frankfurt crewed by volunteers and chartered by the US State Dept. The Revolutionary Guard must have checked our passports a couple of dozen times before they finally got off the plane and let us leave.

As we taxied for takeoff the pilot said "Welcome to freedom flight number five. When our wheels leave the ground you will be in international territory. As soon as we reach cruising altitude there will be an open bar". There was a cheer as we lifted off. The climb was very steep possibly to avoid small arms fire. There was indeed an open bar a few minutes later.



©2004 Curtis Anderson