Calgary Herald from Calgary, Alberta, Canada on October 21, 1978 · 159
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Calgary Herald from Calgary, Alberta, Canada · 159

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Issue Date:
Saturday, October 21, 1978
Page:
159
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I waiting for his Daners he worked in Toronto, where he had the first of the four serious romances of his life. Cini is understandably proud of his album snapshots of his women friends. They are all strikingly attractive. He won them with the charm he could turn on with the help of beer and vodka, but none of them were drinkers.. When he received his immigration papers in 1964, he moved in with relatives in New Jersey and went to work cleaning rollers in a printing shop. But his draft notice soon came and he scooted back to Calgary. There, he got a truck-driving job and fell in with a gang of car thieves. They paid him to deliver stolen cars and indulge his passion for driving the sleek, expensive models his father had always helped him buy. But after one such delivery there was an argument over Cini's fee. So instead of handing over the car, he changed the serial numbers and traded it in on a new model. He botched the job, however, and when he heard the police were on his track he ran back to the U.S. In a pub in Spokane he got drinking with an army sergeant who persuaded him he could join up without going to Vietnam. Cini took the oath ("I was under the influence") and found himself in a boot camp an infantryman who hated guns. "The noise bothered me I was scared to death." He escaped the guns at his next base by qualifying for the communications corps. But he froze with fear halfway up his first telephone pole. By now, however, he was carrying vodka in his water canteen and he managed to forget his terror of heights long enough to volunteer for the Green Berets because he wanted to stay with some pals who were joining the crack parachute regiment. To his secret relief, a hearing impairment disqualified him. Convinced now that he didn't belong in the army, Cini tried to talk his way out, arguing that he hadn't been sober when he signed up. When that didn't work, he stole a car and drove to the Canadian border. He might have got away with his story that he was a civilian except that Canadian immigration officials spotted his carelessly stowed uniform through the window of the car. After this incident the armv eave him an honorable discharge not a dishonorable one as some newspapers reported after the hijacking. He keeps the dis charge certificate, issued in October, IV66, pinned to his cell wall to prove it. Cini returned to Calearv and i walked into the arms of the RCMP. j Given two years' probation on the car theft matter, he staved nut nf tmnhio i driving a truck for a living and escorting j a shapely brunette. When she gave birth to a boy, he was delighted. He intended to marry her and raise the large family he d always wanted. But she shattered the dream when she decided he was too immature. She put the baby up for adoption and Cini saw his son only once, in the hospital shortly after he was born. "It made me want to have him all that much more. I just wanted to take him home with me." Now Cini was hurt and angry. He gave up the friends who'd known the mother of his son. He fretted every time he read about child abuse. He's often wondered since whether that was when the bitterness began to grow in him,- eventually) explode in a desperate act of defiance. His misery was relieved by a stunning auburn-haired young woman he met at a roller skating rink. By flow he had a new J j.St4? Above, Cini two years ago. holding a fellow prisoner's baby. He feels the loss of his own son, put tip for adoption, sparked his crime. job selling records. (His boss would later say he was the best salesman the firm ever had.) He was transferred to Victoria and there, one night in the fall of 1970, Paul Cini, drinking in his living room, saw a fateful TV news item. It was about a skyjacking. "I was thinking to myself how stupid it was for a person to be doing that," he recalls. "How in hell was he going to get away?" And then the answer dawned on him a parachute jump. Back in Calgary the following year, Cini found himself thinking repeatedly about this revelation. At one point, he says, he considered phoning Calgary airport and telling the authorities of his discovery. But, incredibly, somewhere in his confused ruminations this man who had once chickened out halfway up a telephone pole began to see himself as the man who would demonstrate the parachute escape to the world. "I guess I wanted recognition," he says now. "I guess I wanted to stand up and say, 'Hey, I'm Paul Cini and I'm here and I exist and I want to be noticed.' " He began visiting the airport and watching the movements of airliners. He studied aircraft design. He asked a local parachute school about equipment. On the school's advice,' he flew to Chicago and bought a parachute and goggles. In Calgary, he bought a long-haired wig and a ski mask, and grew a moustache. A friend sold him some sticks of dynamite. out couldn t provide detonator caps. Cini says he still doesn't know whether the dynamite was dangerous. "I didn't know anything about explosives.... I didn't intend to use it." For about six months Cini planned his crime, slipping back and forth between reality and fantasy. He drank heavily to convince himself the scheme would work. "It was when I started sobering up that the whole thing seemed absurd." In those sober moments, he knew he was "falling back too far, to reality " Again, his words of explanation fit Hubbard's "gravity" theory. . Even the reality was like theatre of the absurd. Reckoning his red, yellow and white sporting parachute would be too easy for searchers to spot, Cini dumped it in a bathtub full of dull blue dye. But he had no idea how to repack the mass of billowing material. He stuffed it all into a bag and flew to the Edmonton base of a parachute regiment. There some off-duty soldiers packed it while Cini bought them a case of beer. Next he bought a 12-gauge shotgun and cut the barrels down with a hacksaw. He bought an M-14 rifle, an army canteen and a police-band radio. His plan was to jump into the Grand Canyon and hunt rabbits for food. Then he remembered his inability to shoot animals, so he also bought a pile of candy bars and stuffed them into his suitcase along with the rifle, a sheepskin rope, a collapsible shovel, a pup tent, a snowmobile suit and hiking boots. On November 11, 1971, Cini bought a first-class plane ticket to Toronto. He called his boss to say he wouldn't be in to work next day because he'd hurt his leg. The next day he sat alone at home, "not wanting to do it," and bolstered his courage with a case of beer and most of a 26-ounce bottle of vodka. Then he put his ski mask, wig and goggles in the pockets of his beige trenchcoat. He packed his shotgun and dynamite in a plain brown paper bag, his parachute in a Woolco shopping bag, picked up his suitcase and went to Calgary airport. "I was pretty drunk and I almost missed the flight," he remembers. There was no security check on the 115 passengers boarding flight 812. The first thing Cini did after stowing the bag containing his parachute under seat 2B in the first-class cabin of the DC-8 was to ask for a Screwdriver. The memory of that flight is obviously shattering for Paul Cini. When he talks about the hours in the DC-8 his voice falters and he wrings trembling hands. Some of the details of the flight are blurred in Cini's mind, but the essential ones are painfully vivid. He changed into his wig and ski mask in a washroom and, carrying the plain brown bag, slipped unobserved into a small lounge near the front of the aircraft. There he removed the shotgun from the bag and attracted me attention ol purser John Arpin and stewardess Mary Dohey. He sent Arpin for the Woolco bag containing his parachute and, when he got it, stuck two pieces of wire through the paper. This, he convinced the crew, was a bomb that would explode if the two wires held gingerly much of the time by Mary Dohey touched. 11 Cini's recollections of what followed differ from press accounts. Some differences might be considered trivial. Others are more important. The police reported that the package with the protruding wires contained dynamite, although the wires were not attached. Cini swears his "bomb" contained nothing but his parachute. He was said to have pointed his shotgun at the heads of Arpin arid Dohey but doesn't remember doing so, and he stresses the fact that when the shotgun went off accidentally the pellets harmlessly sprayed a cabin wall. "I thank God it wasn't pointing at anyone's head. There was no intention jn my mind of shooting anyone." At one stage, Cini waved the stock of the gun toward Arpin and invited the purser to shoot him. "I think I was hoping they'd get control of the situation," he says now. This notion fits with Hubbard's findings. "The public," he writes, "is convinced that the gain sought by these men is something they aim to achieve after the crime is over. This is flatly false. The gains are chiefly in the crime and during its time of performance." Most hijackers, apparently, are relieved when they're overpowered. The crew of the DC-8 could not, of course, have known this. Cini, drinking steadily, told them he was an Irish Republican Army terrorist. Several times he ordered the pilot, Captain Vern Ehman, to change course. He was trying to create confusion, he says: "I wanted to give the impression thejr had a very sick person on their hands." The airliner landed at Great Falls, Montana, where $50,000 was brought aboard in a briefcase. Cini had demanded $1.5 million. Arpin, told to count the money twice, assured him it had all been delivered. On Cini's orders, the plane took off again. When Dohey, sensing something in his character, talked to him about children, Cini began to weep under his ski mask. According to some accounts, Dohey told him there were children crying on the aircraft. Cini says he heard it. "To this day, I can recall hearing a child on that plane!" He ordered the captain to fly back to Great Falls so that the passengers could be let go. While they were leaving the plane, he had Arpin go to the baggage hold to fetch his suitcase. His last order was for the aircraft to head for Calgary. Although he had no idea where his son I was, he says now that he had a confused notion of having the child located and brought on board and of flying "somewhere" with him. But most of all, Cini says, he was trying to think of how to get out of the trap he had made. He was too terrified to jump. And he was terrified that if he tried to surrender he would be shot. He went through the motions of preparing to jump, but he says, "Really, I was stalling for time." While he was fumbling with the wrapping on his parachute, Arpin grabbed him. Then Phillip Bonne, the assistant purser, hit him on the head with a fire axe, using the blade and then the handle, as the crewman ' 1 A psychiatrist who knows Cini says he is no longer a threat recalled later, although Cini can remember only the blade "coming down on my head even after I closed my eyes." "They had every right to do what they did," Paul Cini says today. He was sane when he committed the crime, he says, although he concedes "a normal person wouldn't go out and do a thing like that. I was-sane, but I was drunk. And I was under a lot of stress I'd had a lot of bitterness build up inside me." Cini asks now that his apologies be conveyed to the crew, and to the passengers and their families: "I want to say to them how sorry I am." And he wants to tell the crew "they did a great job especially Mary and Captain Ehman." Psychiatric testimony at Cini's trial expressed a range of opinion all the way from "no mental disturbance" to "probable or .latent schizophrenia." A defence plea on the grounds of insanity failed. At the federal penitentiary in Prince Albert, where he served more than three years, Cini suffered severe depression. He was appalled by the "filth" and the violence. He spent hours "hiding" in his cell, covering the window with clothing. The staff had Christmas cards made from an original painting by Cini, a bleak winter scene. "It reflected my mood," he says. Good behavior earned him a transfer, in August, 1975, to the medium-security Drumhetler jail near Calgary. There life began to look brighter. A psychiatrist recommended day parole so that Cini would be able to meet with his parents and brother outside prison walls, though still under guard. And he met Jan, a blonde who visited the jail as part of her volunteer work for an organization concerned with convicts' rehabilitation. They began to talk about the possibility of a future together in Britain, where Cini (who is still a British citizen) is to be deported if he wins parole. "I fell madly, passionately in love for the first time in years," says Jan, who has a 9-year-old son. "He's sexy and he's intelligent. He's also very romantic. He makes me feel good about myself." But Jan wonders how long she can wait for Paul Cini. His day parole was never granted. After he was implicated in an escape plan by other prisoners, he was sent back to the penitentiary on New Year's Eve, 1976. He withdrew once more into depression. In March, 1977, however, his request for a transfer to the Regional Psychiatric Centre was granted. By spring '78 he felt "almost completely well." He's a member of an inmates' music appreciation group and chairman of a toastmasters' circle. He raises tropical fish in two tanks in the corridor outside his cell. And he's learned to take the bad times like when someone killed eight of his fish with a dose of soap powder without reaching for a bottle. (Going to jail doesn't automatically rule out drinking. "I could have had it for $50 a bottle in Drumheller," he says.) He's also given up his two-packs-a-day smoking habit. On his own initiative, Cini wrote to the British parole authorities and arranged to place himself under voluntary surveillance if he is ever a free man. He has also been corresponding with his older brother, Tony, who lives in a small English town and has promised to find Paul a job. Cini is also in touch with a psychiatrist in the same town. Is it all a hopeless dream? Cini has known murderers who have been paroled after a few years, yet he has never been allowed to set foot outside a prison without shackles. Canada's first air hijacker, Charles Beasley, was released on parole after three years and deported to the U.S. One psychiatrist who knows Cini says he is convinced the man is no longer a threat to society and should be released. But is Paul Cini being made an example because he was the first hijacker in the world who, in the words of Hubbard, "got it ail together" with weapons, parachute and survival gear? Jan wonders about that. She has pleaded his case, to no avail, in letters to prison and parole authorities at every level. Paul Cini has learned, however, to hope. He goes on planning for the future. He'll give Jan a plane ticket to England, he says. It will be a round-trip ticket, so she will have complete freedom in making up her mind about Paul Cini.... Footnote: Cini's case . for parole was hoard on August 25. A Iter the hearing he was advised that the parole authorities had reserved their decision for three months while they sought further information. ! 1 i f i I i I. "i 1 5 ! i ! i Ti i i . I 1 i 4 1 j I S ' I i i j j t .. if U the hnt-t F"-Teor.. ',"O.N.Clr t".20 The mlMssi cigareile . vwhaewrnnacle. Warning: Health and Welfare Canada advises that danger to health increases with amount smoked -avoid inhaling. Average per cigarette-King Size Filter and Regular Filter: Tar 5 mg, Nic. 0.4 mg.

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