Byck was born poor and dropped out of the ninth grade to support his family. He later married and had four children but was never successful. After several business failures, his wife leaves him, and he sinks into a deep depression and has himself committed. He eventually decides that there is a government conspiracy to oppress the poor, and he decides to kill the President whom he blames for having the Small Business Administration deny him a loan. He drives himself to the Baltimore/Washington International Airport and storms a plane ready to depart. He kills a police officer in the process, and then shots the two pilots, killing one. He is later wounded by a police officer and then takes his own life. In his briefcase they find a bomb. His last words were “help me.”
Byck’s state of mind may have prevented him from successfully using an aircraft as a weapon and there was little publicity of the event for fear of inspiring copy-cat assassins. However his story, and the events of September 11th, are a chilling reminder of the potential use of airliners a weapons.