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Disaster When Two American Pilots Accidentally Flew Into North Korea Airspace



By Cami Ezenwa

By virtue of ideological differences, an American aircraft flying into North Korea airspace can be an issue indeed.

And that was why when it happened in this case under, the consequence was devastating.

North Korea military shut down the helicopter instantly killing the pilot, David Schlimme’ on the spot, and taking his colleague, Chief Warrant Officer, Bobby Hall hostage.


Though Schlimme’s body was handed over to the US military,a few days after this December 17,’1994 incident, Hall was still detained for violating North Korea airspace regulations.

The helicopter went down on December. 17 after straying into North Korean territory. North Korea said it had shot the aircraft down because the pilots were spying.

North korea demanded a reasonable explanation from the US threatening to continue to detain Hall.


American president then, Bill Clinton, providing the American perspective, said the US aircraft had a mechanical failure and stayed into North Korea airspace

But to North Korea, that was a cock-and-bull story, so she demanded a formal apology.
The US, in cognisance of its prestige as a global power would not straight way offer such an apology, but explored soft-landing opportunities via the diplomatic angle.

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When it eventually sent a letter, it blamed navigation error, for the intrusion, with a letter written by Gen. Gary E. Luck, supreme commander of the 37,000 U.S. troops in South Korea.
General Luck said it was a mistake for the American helicopter to have crossed into North Korea airspce.

The congressman, who negotiated in Washington’s behalf for the return of Mr. Hall, said North Korean officials had basically agreed to release him soon,but without a certainty on date.

Warrant Officer Bobby Hall strode across the border into South Korea and back to freedom this morning after two weeks of captivity in North Korea.


This was the way a Washington Post report captured Hall’s return to freedom:

“It was a dank, dismal morning in the mountainous terrain along the border as a troop of North Korean soldiers marched to the crossing point with Hall in their midst. Hall neither smiled nor gave any sign of relief as he saluted the assembled American and South Korean military brass.

His grim expression seemed to convey roughly equal measures of exhaustion and fear.”


The North Korea airspace intrusion incident remains one in the many not-too-warm incidents involving the two countries.

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