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This podcast is intended for mature audiences, listener discretion is advised. Hello, say. Over the past six episodes, we've profiled three different skyjackers exploring their backstories, their crimes and the moments when they've crossed paths. In this episode, we will meet the final player in this brazen helicopter prison escape, the man at the controls of the helicopter, the man actually being hijacked. He was probably one of the best of the best. I think he had a little over thirty thousand hours of flying time and had flown all kinds of helicopters and flown some airplanes.
You name it, he did it. He was just really talented.
They had waited and plotted, and now as prisoners, Martin McNally and Gary Trapnell stood around a gold jacket in the yard of Marion Penitentiary with a hijacked helicopter hovering overhead, their impossible prison escape was looking more and more possible by the second.
Over a thousand feet above them, Barbara Oswald was holding a pistol to the back of the helicopter pilots piloted calmly directing him to land the chopper in the prison yard. At the same time, multiple guards were beginning to raise alarm and their rifles from the surrounding prison towers.
Let's freeze here with the helicopter still in the sky. We've gotten to know Mac, Trapp and Barbara, but the pilot, someone who could actually fly, also plays a pivotal role in this story. While most people flying a helicopter with a loaded gun to their heads would do exactly as they're told, this pilot was not most people. He'd been in high pressure situations before. He was a natural born all American hero and an eternal optimist. His name was Alan Cerclage, and he knew a lot in this moment, he knew the guards were taking aim at his helicopter.
He knew they wouldn't distinguish between him and the perpetrators of the escape. And he knew if he landed the chopper in the prison yard below him and took on his intended passengers, he wasn't going to make it out alive. This is American Skyjacker, the final flight of Martin McNelly, I'm your host, Danny Whisnant Housekeep. In our seventh episode, we meet Alan Arkology, the helicopter pilot held at gunpoint during that entraps, daring prison escape from Maryan Penitentiary.
Allan was just a happy go lucky guy, and he just never thought too much into anything in his life, I would say Allan almost never worked for a living. Whatever he did, he did because he enjoyed it and had fun doing it.
That's Gene Hoffmeyer, Alan Barclays's lifelong best friend. Gene's family had just moved to the town of Carterville, Missouri, and he was the new kid in school.
So I was kind of lucky to catch him when he was at Connellsville because a couple of years after we got into high school, he moved and I lost touch with him after the freshman year. And then we ran back into each other when we were seniors.
The year was 1966 and America was at war in Vietnam.
So when Gene and Alan graduated from high school, they were expecting draft notices. But rather than get drafted for advised Gene to be proactive and sign up for the Army himself.
I ran into Allen and Allen said, oh, man, don't let them draft you. They got this really cool program. You can fly a helicopter. So I went back home and talked to my dad and he was an ex Navy guy. And I said, What do you think? Anything's better than a foxhole? So he was about a month ahead of me going to basic training, going to flight school and going to Vietnam. Barkley fell in love with flying helicopters even while he was getting shot at in a war zone like Vietnam, he regularly demonstrated a talent for thwarting death.
He did get shot down three times that year. They were coming in to a hilltop and it was fogged in some kind of an emergency. They were supposed to lift somebody out. Well, they got down there and the aircraft crashed and rolled down the side of the hill. Well, Allen had been knocked out in the process. He wakes up and he's laying in a stretcher and they got a sandbag on his head and he's going, what's this all about?
He goes, well, you know, you had a head injury, so, you know, you could have a broken neck or something. You have to lay still and lay right there. Next morning you woke up and he goes, Man, I'm hungry. He took the sandbag off and went down to chow hall.
But that was Allen. He really loved flying. And for a lot of people, it's almost addictive. He was a lucky guy, but he was you know, he was a guy that took chances. You keep taking chances and sooner or later, something's going to come back to bite you in the butt.
After two tours of duty in Vietnam, Bartlett returned to the states and began flying choppers for radio stations and other commercial outfits. Soon, he became the chief pilot for foster helicopters, the go to helicopter charter company in the St. Louis metro area.
Allen was the chief pilot. I was the number two guy and we would be there at the barge anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week. His wife worked at the barge selling tickets. He had two children, two daughters, Shelly and Sheri. As the summer season was well underway on May 24th of 1978, it was business as usual around foster headquarters. That particular day, we were really booked up. Like I said, we were flying traffic.
We were flying morning traffic. We had two aircraft going up for evening traffic. The Post-Dispatch called up and wanted to go out and take some pictures, and my schedule was to finish up and then take this lady on a flight down to survey the land down by Cape Girardeau. She had passed herself off as a real estate person. It turned out to be Barbara Oswal. Well, what happened was I went out, but they ran long and doing pictures for their newspaper, so I ended up calling them and I said, OK, I'm back in route when I'm out in Eureka and Allanson, no problem.
She's here. I've talked to her. We've got everything set up and said I will take her. So I said, OK, you know, no problem. So when I got back, Alan had already left. You know, if this was nothing real out of the ordinary, we've had people call up and say, hey, my child is lost. They're not doing enough to find him. I want to rent a helicopter for an hour to fly over these woods.
OK, that's, you know, aerial survey. That's kind of what you know. Yeah. That's in our purview. So it wouldn't have raised any suspicion whatsoever.
Jeanne remembers hearing Berkovich communicating with the office over the radio as he took off with Barbara Oswald, saying he was headed down to Cape Girardeau, a town a little over 100 miles south of St. Louis on the Mississippi River.
We got a call from the Illinois State Police. And the FBI. That there had been an incident. They said that he had been hijacked. We jumped in another jet ranger. Flew it on down. Of course, we got hold of comments when she was down thinking we were, you know, second wave. That afternoon, Alan Barclay had guided the helicopter south towards Cape Girardeau. Once he was out of radio range, Barbara Oswald pulled a pistol and pointed it at his head.
Barbara Oswal told him what the real plan was for a prison break. She had a gun and she had been a air traffic controller. So she knew something about aircraft communications and she turned off his transponder so he couldn't talk to anybody and then ordered him to fly over the prison, get a look at it to see where he was going to go, where he was going to land. At that point, Alan was pretty high. He was about, I think he said three thousand feet.
They didn't want to arouse suspicion of the guards in the in the prison now hovering above the prison.
Park Village was between a rock and a hard place. Below him, the armed guards were beginning to take notice and Barbara Oswald was becoming more and more agitated. Either he was likely to be shot by his hijacker or he was likely to be shot by the guards after landing the chopper in the prison yard. He thought of his wife. He thought of his two daughters. And Alan Bachrach made a decision. Well, he told her, he said, you know, these doors are not intuitive to people that haven't been around aircraft, these prisoners come up to the aircraft.
There's a good chance they won't be able to get in because they won't know how to unlatched the door. She goes, well, I'll unlatch them before we come down. He goes, well, you can't do that because the wind and everything, the wind is going to push against the door. You know, you're going to have to kind of open the door beforehand and you're going to have to manually hold that door out. You know, she didn't know if that was true or not, but she thought she better try it.
So when she did, she took the gun out of her right hand, put it into her left hand and reached over and tried to open the door and push on it. But when she did that, Allan noticed that she had it in her hand, but she didn't have her finger over the trigger.
Allan, the taller guy with long arms and having Flume rides all these years, you were used to you reaching back and helping people with their seatbelt.
He would do that. I could not I couldn't reach him, but he could reach he knew he could reach the seat belt. He knew his length of reach. So he reached back and grabbed your gun. Hello, podcast listeners. I'd like to tell you about a new podcast called Smoke Screen Fake Priest. It's an investigative show about Ryan Scott, also known as Randall Stocks, also known as Ryan Golinger and also known by seven other names. He was a popular priest who spent the last 30 years traveling the Midwest, swindling millions of dollars out of people where he used the money to enrich himself, spend away and declare bankruptcy whenever outed for falsifying his identity.
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One of the longest, most lucrative smuggling runs in U.S. history. Listen and subscribe to the syndicate right now on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hovering above Marion Penitentiary, Alan Berkely knew he needed to do something. So he took his hands off the controls, so he reached back and grabbed her gun and they started resting while they're doing that. The aircraft starts falling out of the sky, things falling out of the sky. He's reaching back here, fighting with this woman to get the gun.
He finally gets it away from her and turns around and regains control of the aircraft, hits it back to level. She's just calmly said, well, that's no big deal. I've got another gun. And she reached down into a briefcase and started pulling out another gun. Well, that point, Alan said, you know, the decision was made. He turned around and just unloaded the gun. Without ever aiming or anything else, of course, she's only 30 inches away and even at that, a couple of rounds Mr.
But one did hit her. And it was a fatal injury then he did it, you know, he knew she was laying back there, but he didn't know whether she was alive, whether she was just, you know, knocked out she was going to come back to. He regained control of the aircraft and put it into a very steep descent and came flying into, well, not into the president, flew right at the front door, jumped out and was flailing, flailing his arms around, going, whoa, you know, I've been hijacked.
And, you know, I got the woman here. She's hurt. She's hurt.
From the ground, Martin McNally couldn't see the helicopter descend. But he could hear it. And I hear the chopper rotor in place, it's not moving. And then I hear the chopper is shutting down in front of the prison. I leaned over to traffic and I said we got a problem. The choppers shut down the rotors, it's off, the engines off. And I said, we got to get back into the compound. By that time there, when I did turn around, Kenny Johnson was already on the roof getting ready to go into the yard while I took off running to the building.
And I said, I can't get up here, Kenny, I need a hand. So Kenny came down, gave me a hand and pulled me up to a ledge there. We were both able to get up on the roof, main prison above the corridor. We're getting ready to go down into the main compound as we're getting ready. I see the officer I told Kenny I says were made were hit. So we sat down on the benches. About 15 or 20 officers came rushing out of the prison and they put us in cuffs and took us immediately to segregation.
They shut down the yard right away, everybody yard recall return to yourselves. Trapnell head sat down, he became catatonic. He was just out of it. He lost it. They handcuffed him to later that evening, the FBI came to him and.
He came back to the unit and he said Barbara was killed. She's dead. And I said, oh, my God, this is terrible. And I didn't find out until after she was dead that she had been up for 40 hours before this thing happened, couldn't sleep, and she was taking pills to stay awake. Barbara Oswald's death changed everyone connected to it, beginning with Al Anbar, Cleage, who in his own self-defense fired the shot that killed her.
Yeah, he was traumatized, he was just beside himself that he'd gotten through this and he'd actually had to shoot somebody and, you know, tell him the story and he never shot anybody personally. You know, if you're flying a gunship, you may have killed several people, but you do it at such a great distance. So I flew him back that night, he was definitely not himself. He was visibly shaken. You know, he was actually trembling a little bit.
His nerves were pretty much shot. You know, somebody just threatened to kill you. And he figured if they had been successful and had gotten its prisoners out, he was going to die. On their flight back to St. Louis, Jean remembers Barkley trying to come to grips with what had just happened.
He couldn't believe that anybody would do anything like that, that anybody would be that kind of person, you know, what her thinking was and trying to get these guys, you know, that's that's the maximum security prison from the federal system. I mean, it's the worst of the worst down there. He felt really badly that, you know, that things went the way they did and then she had basically left him no choice. I remember thanking him.
I said, you know, if you waited for another 20 minutes, I would have been back. I have taken this flight and I said I can guarantee I could not have done what you did after Alan kind of calmed down and kind of within a couple of days or so, his wife really took issue with the fact that Alan was now a celebrity. You know, TV stations are calling him for interviews and all this kind of stuff.
I was really surprised. I really thought that I had it under control and I didn't think that I was going to have to shoot when I had the weapon pointed at or I thought that I was going to be able to to salvage the whole situation without anybody get hurt.
She was telling him, don't do it, don't do these things because you're calling more attention to me and the kids and we don't know what her family is or what ties she has to these guys. Somebody could show up at the door and kill us all. You know, this is this is really dangerous, what you're doing. And Alan didn't see that. He kind of saw this as an opening to doing the traffic and stuff like that. It's all happened.
I might as well use it to enhance my career and see what we can do with this.
So she divorced him over that pretty much and moved on after surviving the hijacking, losing his first wife and becoming a local celebrity. Parklet had gone through a whirlwind of change and come out of it. A new man. From there, his career took off.
He was to do Channel five, which was the TV station Chopper five that he flew.
That's Tori Lyons, a veteran radio producer and traffic and weather reporter who flew with Parkland's for many years after he survived the hijacking.
I went out to meet him and he just looked so normal and we were going to discuss putting the radio people in the chopper with him and the logistics of how that was going to work. He asked me if I had a few extra minutes to spend with him, and I said yes. And he took me upstairs in his office and brought out this old battered blue scrapbook and started showing me pictures of this bloodied helicopter. And he rehashes the story for me because I wasn't completely familiar with it.
And to hear it from him was like hearing it live. I walked away that day a little bit stunned. It was probably out of all the experiences in his life, probably the most impactful on him. Tory also vividly remembers the experience of flying with BA, clenching his fearlessness and his innate ability to maintain control of the aircraft. It seemed almost effortless. He was a bird on the wind. I was immediately told that the first time I got in a helicopter with him, his objective was to scare the crap out of me.
Well, I did go up with Alan. And I was in the back, he said, how much time do we have between reports? I said, Oh, I got about ten minutes. And he said, I'll take you for a ride. We were over the Blanchot Bridge, actually drove down. And he got within inches of the water and full speed ahead. I mean, literally, you can see the helicopter shadow in the water. Now on the front lines of breaking news in the St.
Louis area, Barclays's reputation and celebrity continue to grow.
You could be over the biggest traffic jam in the entire county. And if there was a major news story, Allan was gone, he would be so quick or a chase if the cops were chasing somebody.
We were chasing the cops and considering everyone on the radio could listen as this wild event unfolded live by cerclage created a reputation for himself.
As a local hero after he plunged into the Mississippi River News Channel, Five's chopper pilot, Ellen Lalage, hover his helicopter above the Mississippi and helped rescue the victim. It became huge within my company. We never had reporter pilots before, and all of a sudden we've got this legend in St. Louis that does both. He definitely was the first of its kind. He originated the traffic reporter pilot role. He did all kinds of stuff around St. Louis. Somebody would open new grocery store or appliance store, you know, Alan would go out and do a celebrity deal.
He felt like the more he did, the more valuable he would be as far as keeping doing what he was doing, as a matter of fact.
The day he died. He was supposed to fly out to a car dealership, he was going to fly out there and land and they were going to give away hot dogs and soda pop.
Meet Alan Barclay. All this kind of stuff. Now, we went out there and had my grandkids with me and my wife. We got out there and, you know, he's supposed to be here on 15 minutes or so and 15 minutes went by. Pretty sure it's a half an hour. And I said, this is this is not good. As a hobby, Barclays had purchased one of the first build it yourself helicopters, a tiny one seed, highly maneuverable craft known as the Mini 500.
It was perfect for the high speed stunts he performed at promotional events at local businesses. That is until September 19th, 1998. I actually thought it was an arcade game when I first saw it, you know, that you see at the grocery store because it was no bigger than that. It really wasn't. I just looked at and I said, Allan, you're going to die in that. And he said there's a lot of times I could have died and I didn't.
Accident investigation found that while he was taking off, the engine failed in the aircraft, just fell probably from about we're thinking about 60 feet fell straight down into the field. They got him out of the aircraft. They had no heartbeat or anything like that. They put him on the gurney and started taking him back to the ambulance and his heart restarted. And that's kind of what everybody, you know, gave everybody the hope that his heart restarted. Maybe he's not in that bad a shape.
It was hard on all of us. It was tough. We stayed at the hospital all day that day and half the night and I got to see him. I almost wish I hadn't now I wish I could have just remembered talking to him on that Friday and. Not seeing him with all those tubes and that wasn't Allen, Allen was invincible. That was not Allen. When I was there, Alan was gone. To women who hoped to evade the ticking clock of time, Dr.
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They prepared for their upcoming trial for the attempted prison escape. If convicted for this new charge, which they almost certainly would be, their life sentences would likely be doubled, destroying any chance of them getting out of prison on parole. We were locked up on May the 24th, three of us, me trapnell, Kenny Johnson, and we know we're going to be indicted and we were indicted in Illinois for that escape attempt. We were indicted and we had to prepare for a trial.
Gary Trapnell hadn't pulled the trigger, but his letters and meetings with Oswald left, no doubt whose decisions led to the death of a mother of five children. As for Mack, who also faced prison for the rest of his natural life, he saw it slightly differently. It was trapped. Nell's reckless exploitation of Barbara that had doomed them all.
His common sense was not the best common sense. He would do things that were stupid, and you need to be corrected on that. And when he did things that were stupid, I corrected them. After this thing happened and Barbara was killed, I jumped all over him verbally and I said, why didn't you follow my instructions on telling her that she can't come in here, visit you on the same day that she's going to take the chopper? Why didn't you do that?
His response was this. I mean, if this would have succeeded, you wouldn't be mad about this.
But while enraged, Mack had known about shrapnels recklessness, especially when it came to manipulating women, he'd seen it firsthand through his own family after he and Trapnell had first met years earlier while he was at Leavenworth and I was at Marion, there was supposed to be a movie made about the Fox is crazy to. He wrote, my younger sister, she was in college at the time, he told her that he could use some young girls five or six or seven young girls for this movie, all expenses paid.
My sister approached some of her classmates and trapnell a fucking dog that he was he asked for risque photographs, these girls dressed up in bathing suits and bras and paintings and whatever and sent them to him for his approval. Well, as it was, that was a scam, there was no movie, there was no expenses paid trip to California and all this other stuff, it was a scam. When I discovered it was a scam, I told my sister I should kill him for pulling this stunt.
But I didn't kill him on any stabbing or anything like that, I was pissed off about what he pulled, though, when he did get to the and I told him that that was a really scumbag move that you pulled. There's no excuse for that. Yet despite this violation of his own sister and the disastrous escape attempt that would keep them in prison forever, Max, loyalty to trap stayed strong.
Trapnell had needed to seduce women throughout his crime riddled life, but in math he had forged a partnership on will alone the will to escape. And for Mac, there was a certain honor in that. I never lost respect for Trapnell. I always held him with high respect, high intelligence. But the fox wasn't done casting his spell in the lead up to this new trial, Trapnell was well aware that the rest of his life was on the line. And the question now became.
Who could he manipulate next? Next time on American skyjacker Garrett Shrapnels, manipulative talents claimed yet another victim will attempt to break trap and meth out of prison using a familiar technique.
But he convinced her that she should come and durably she let a flight attendant know that she had a bomb strapped to her. The flight attendant could see what she described as dynamite with wire and a bell kind of thing to initiate the explosion. That's going to petrify anybody on board. American skyjacker is written, created and produced by Eli Kooris and Joshua Schaffer of Megalo Pictures, executive produced by Jason Hoak and produced by Andrew Richards of Imperative Entertainment, hosted and co-produced by myself.
Danny was Housekeep, co-produced and Sound, edited by Nick Senex assistant edited by Max Drank, Poll Associate produced by David Manzie and archive produced by Chris Morcom. Our artwork is by Jeff Corwin. Music composition is by Michael Kramer with assistance from Adam Teb of Tin Man Music Sound mixing by Shindig Music and Sound based on the beach in Playa del Rey, California, hosted recording by Clayton Studios in St. Louis and additional sound mixing and voice recording by Christy Williams archive Legal by Davis Wright Tremaine and Production Legal by Sean Fosset of Raymond Legal PC American Skyjacker is a co-production between Imperative Entertainment and Megalo Pictures.
Follow us on Instagram at American Skyjacker or at Pegaso Pictures. And please write and review the podcast on whatever platform you listen to. Thanks again for listening. From the Westwood One podcast network.