Samuel Byck

Attempted Assassin

Born: 30 January 1930
Died: 22 February 1974 (shot to death)
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Best known as: The guy who plotted to assassinate President Nixon with a plane
Samuel Byck was a Philadelphia businessman who in 1974 killed two people and himself in a failed plot to fly an airplane into the White House and assassinate President Richard M. Nixon. On the morning of 22 February, Byck took a pistol and a homemade gasoline bomb to the Baltimore Washington International airport. He forced his way through a security checkpoint, shot and killed a 24 year-old guard, then boarded a Delta Airlines flight scheduled to fly to Atlanta. He ordered the pilots to take off, and when they hesitated he shot them, fatally wounding the co-pilot. Police outside the plane fired at Byck and wounded him, and he shot himself in the head. At the time it was reported, it was not widely known that Byck had planned what he called "Operation Pandora's Box," an assassination attempt on Nixon, the focus of his many personal and political grievances. As it turned out, the Secret Service had been aware of Byck's previous mail threats to the president, but didn't consider him a serious threat.
Extra credit: Byck had a history of mental illness, and in the years prior to his death he sent letters and recorded tapes to a variety of famous people, with a special affection for composer Leonard Bernstein... Byck's actions took place a week after Robert Preston stole an Army helicopter and landed inside the White House Complex, just 150 feet from the West Wing (he was ultimately shot down and wounded)... The Assassination of Richard Nixon, a feature film based on Byck, was released in 2004 and starred Sean Penn as "Sam Bicke."

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More on Samuel Byck from Fact Monster:

  • Samuel Byck - Biography of Samuel Byck, The guy who plotted to assassinate President Nixon with a plane
  • Selected Biographies: B - Selected biographies of well-known people and fictional characters
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