Q&A with Brendan I. Koerner (who wrote the book on Skyjacking)



Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired and wrote "The Skies Belong to Us – Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking". Of course, we read the book whilst researching our main theme for the game, but it was quite a surprise when Brendan signed up to help beta test.

So, eventhough he's been testing and giving feedback on the game for us (along with the rest of the Beta Crew), we hounded Brendan with some questions...

You wrote The Skies Belong to Us, which covers a fascinating period in aviation history! What inspired you to write the book?

Back in October 2009, I read a brief New York Times article about a man named Luis Armando Peña Soltren, a Puerto Rican nationalist who'd hijacked a plane from New York to Havana in 1968. He then spent the next 41 years living in Cuba before voluntarily returning to the U.S.; the newspaper story was about the fact he'd been arrested while getting off his flight at JFK Airport. I was stunned that I'd never heard of this guy before--his crime was so spectacular, and I've also always been attracted to stories about fugitives and exiles. So I started to look into his background, and thus realized that his crime wasn't all that unusual for that era--in fact, hijackings used to take place on a near weekly basis in the U.S. As someone who couldn't remember a time when airports didn't have metal detectors and X-ray machines, I was stunned that hijacking had once been a routine affair. And thus began my grand obsession...

How did you find out about the Skyjacker Beta and what were your initial thoughts?

I was actually trying to use Google to locate a particular mention of my book, and up popped the Skyjacker website. For obvious reasons, I was highly intrigued! I dashed off an email to y'all and asked to join the beta; little did I know how many hours I'd end up spending on the game over the next few weeks.

It looks like you played the Beta quite a lot, what is it about the game that keeps players coming back? What was your strategy?

As something of an aviation geek due to my skyjacking research, I loved hunting for flights to esoteric airports. I figured out early on that you need to fly vast distances to random places in order to rack up the maximum number of points. And so my strategy was very focused on testing the game during times when I know lots of international flights head out of JFK and Newark airports--especially flights to Asia, as those tend to have the greatest points potential. I got the biggest kick out of snagging a plane and redirecting it to somewhere in Tajikistan or Burundi--and so did my 9-year-old son, who's a geography nerd and loved learning all the airport codes.

Your Skyjacker name is Dayton Wells, is there a story behind this?

I was trying to picture what my skyjacker would look like in real life, and I kept picturing an ex-baseball player named David Wells--a portly, mustachioed guy who always looked like he was coming off a bender. I can't remember quite why I subbed in the first name "Dayton," but it does give the character a more Marlboro Man edge.

Anything else you'd like to mention for the record?!

Nope, I'm good!


Well fair enough. 

Skyjacker - We Own the Skies is available on the iOS App Store right now. Download it today and see if you can spot Dayton Wells in the skies above you!