It was the skilful linking of a toilet ruse and a whack with a bottle of whisky that defused the first hijacking of an Air New Zealand plane and freed its hostages.
Three crew of the Tokyo-Auckland Jumbo Jet flight were held up in the cockpit by Fijian-Indian political protester Amjad Ali at Nadi airport in Fiji 32 years ago today, during the Pacific nation's May 1987 military coup.
Armed with eight sticks of melonite explosive and an ignition source, the 37-year-old airport worker, whose presence was at first considered normal, was able to walk into the cockpit unchallenged.
It was five days after the coup began. Ali said it was a hijack and he was demanding the release of Prime Minister Timoci Bavadra and the members of his Indian-dominated Government, who had been taken hostage in the take-over by Sitiveni Rabuka.
Pilot Graeme Gleeson, now 82, recalls clearly the six-hour stand-off that was ended only when flight engineer Graeme Walsh hit Ali - who later became an MP - on the head with a bottle of duty-free Teacher's scotch.
A former Royal Air Force Vulcan bomber pilot, Gleeson had also flown for Fiji Airways and knew Ali from those days.
Gleeson said the Indian population was understandably unhappy about the coup and Ali had decided to do something about it.
Sticks of melonite - similar to dynamite - were curled into a U-shape and bound together.
"They were concealed on his body and he had one in his hand and either a lighter or a box of matches and he could strike it quickly and ignite the fuse. It was convincing enough for us to take attention."
He demanded the passengers, who had just boarded, be kept on the plane, but he mucked this up by also shouting at two flight crew members to shut the cockpit door.
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"They were only too happy to close [it] because they were on the other side. They ran down the stairs and told the chief purser there was a nutter up in the cockpit with explosives."
All 105 passengers and 21 crew members got off.
"The cabin crew did a fantastic job. They got all the passengers off as quickly as possible without any noise or fuss whatever. He wasn't aware of that until he saw all these people coming out in front of the aircraft where there was a walkway at eye level to the aircraft.
"He starts shouting at me to get all these passengers back on and I thought there's no chance [of that]. His plan was starting to unravel."
News reports said Ali had demanded to be flown to Libya. University of Sydney academic Sanjay Ramesh later wrote that the coup leaders, who had said the Bavadra Government's policies were "Soviet-inspired", began referring to the "Libyan connection".
But Gleeson said Ali never demanded to be taken to Libya. "I said, 'What are you going to do'. He said, 'Fly to Libya'. I said, "There's not enough fuel …' and that was the only reference to Libya.
"The main thing was his intention was to fly over Suva threatening to bring the aircraft down if the rightfully elected Government wasn't released. He wasn't making that public. That's what he had indicated."
Ali was in communication with Air New Zealand staffers and his father while on the plane. Gleeson said the hijacker became stressed and he was worried he might light his six-second fuse.
The situation was ultimately brought to an end after Walsh managed to find a bottle of duty-free whisky after going to the toilet.
"I was looking over my shoulder, sitting in my seat - I saw him come in and whack him over the head. We just got up - the co-pilot and I - and grabbed him and sat him on the floor. Then the engineer ran down and opened the doors."
People rushed into the plane and Ali was detained by authorities.
Ali was convicted on a charge of taking explosives onto a plane and given a suspended sentence.
Fiji Labour Party leader and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry agreed Ali was treated lightly and said the hijacking posed no difficulty for his later election nomination.
"It was extenuating circumstances," he told the Herald on Sunday.
Ali was a Labour member of the Fiji Parliament from 1999 to 2006 and was held hostage during George Speight's attempted coup in 2000. He also gained New Zealand residency.
Gleeson said the whisky bottle disappeared for a considerable time but was eventually returned to Walsh.
Walsh posed for a Herald photograph in 1996 wielding a bottle of Teacher's, the last of four bottles of whisky given to him, the paper said, "by a grateful Air New Zealand".