It was the hijacking case that changed law enforcement procedure forever. When Shelbyville pilot Brent Downs was accidentally killed by the FBI during a hijacking in 1971, it led to the use of trained negotiators.
Now, there is a remarkable new development in a 40-year-old story.
Andy Downs is a devoted son. Although he never knew his dad, he has kept his memory alive with an extraordinary story that ripples through the history of hostage negotiation.
Andy Downs recently took a big step by making a historic appearance at an FBI briefing in Nashville.
"It is an honor for me to be here. This is the first time I've had an invite from the FBI. That means a lot to me, and it means a lot to my family," Andy Downs said.
In 1971, Brent Downs was a charter pilot in Nashville when he was hijacked by kidnapper George Giffe and ordered to fly to Cuba.
The plane had to land in Jacksonville, FL, to refuel. That's where the FBI stepped in, and Brent Downs - a young pilot with a pregnant wife and toddler back in Middle Tennessee - begged the FBI to negotiate.
But the FBI wouldn't budge, and when it was over, the pilot and kidnapper were both dead.
"(FBI Director J. Edgar) Hoover got his first report, and he ordered commendations for all the agents in Jacksonville," Andy Downs said.
The Downs family successfully sued the FBI, and hostage negotiation soon became a staple of American law enforcement training.
Then, recently, Andy Downs was invited to speak to the FBI in Nashville by Special Agent-in-Charge Keith Moses, who said he had a compelling story the local agents needed to hear.
"To actually get an invite from the FBI, it surprised me, and it was cathartic in a way to be able to come here in here in this building and talk about my father's death and not be shunned or ridiculed or anything along those lings - nothing but having support," Andy Downs said. "I am so deeply grateful."
Andy Downs is working on a documentary on the failed hijacking that killed his father. November 58 is in pre-production, and he is still raising money for the film.
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