Stab Magazine | Surfers (Kinda) Stop A Terror Threat On Flight MH128

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Surfers (Kinda) Stop A Terror Threat On Flight MH128

Crash tackling a nutter en route to the swell of the year in Nias.

news // Jun 6, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The word “terror” hasn’t been this prevalent since the headlines leading up to Friday the 13th, Halloween, May, yesterday, 2016….never mind. We’re not escaping it. Welcome to chaos. 

A potentially disastrous incident was thwarted on Flight MH128 by two surfers, Fabio Contu and Troy Joyner of Woolamai, Australia. Unlike Flight 93, there will be no film about their heroics, MH128 just doesn’t quite have the ring, or better yet, the gravitas–the bomb threat was a hoax. But, for those involved, to their knowledge, a bomb was on the plane, and two surf dogs took on the task of saving the lives of many. 

Last Wednesday, Fabio and Troy, were leaving Melbourne to eventually arrive at Nias. The swell of the year was set to hit the following Monday. They boarded Flight MH128 in Melbourne at dark. According to Troy, 10 minutes after takeoff, a passenger on the plane stood up and refused to sit down. Instead, he ran down the aisle and towards the cockpit with a device he claimed as a bomb. 

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The two surf-heroes, Fabio and Troy. Photo: The Sentinel 

“We sat stunned with what we had just heard,” Troy told the Sentinel. “I could see the panic starting to set in. I could hear the cabin crew talking in a different language with panic in their voice. We were scared that there was a bomb on the plane, and the man was going to blow us up. We both feared for our lives.” 

A female stewardess placed herself in front of the presumed bomber. The man charged through her. Fabio and Troy took action. 

“I grabbed him by the neck and put him in a choke hold,” said Troy. “Fab was right behind me and grabbed the passenger around the torso.” Fabio gripped the man behind the arm. While they struggled to keep his hands away from his body they searched for a push trigger.  

“I saw a black device about 40cm round and six inches high,” said Fab. “I ripped it off the offender and passed it to a nearby passenger.” 

Passengers and crew came to their aid, securing the man’s legs. They held him face down. The crew brought cable ties and Fabio fastened him with his arms behind his back to the frame of the seat. He, according to an article, remained there “occasionally moaning and yelling obscenities.” The captain turned the plane around for an emergency landing in Melbourne. 

At this point, the fear wasn’t over. The crew and passengers all believed there was a bomb on the plane and at any second, it would blow. “All I could think about was that I may never see my wife and two boys again,” said Troy. 

Once they landed, the next 90-minutes all of the passengers and the assailant remained on board. “90 minutes is a very long time to wait when you are fearing for your life,” continued Troy. “This time was excruciatingly unsettling.”

Troy and Fabio, do not “see themselves as heroes, just blokes doing what needs to be done.” 

“We are thrilled with the outcome, and that we’re all safe,” they said. “Although we’ve since learned it was a hoax, the trauma and stress are very real for all of those who were on board.” 

“Now we just want to go surfing,” concluded a man with the bravado to throw himself over the ledge of the best swell to hit Nias this year. 

Je Vargas Layback 5527 1

We only hope this was their reward. Nias, as ridden by Jeronimo Vargas. Photo: DIOGO D’OREY/LAYBACK.TV 


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