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[00:00:00]

Hello, podcast listeners, my name is Chris Walker, host of The Syndicate, the new podcast about how a group of college friends took advantage of Colorado's medical marijuana laws to create one of the longest, most lucrative smuggling runs in U.S. history. Subscribe to the syndicate right now on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:00:22]

And stay tuned to the end of this episode for a special preview of the trailer.

[00:00:28]

This podcast is intended for mature audiences, listener discretion is advised. Hello, big say. In the first half of our series, we've met Martin McNally and Gary Trapnell, two American skyjackers who have led wildly different criminal lives and who seemed destined for life behind bars. But the story isn't over yet. With the help of a woman, Martin, McNelly and Gary Trapnell were determined to break out of prison. Onboard the helicopter on that late Monday evening in 1978, Barbara Oswald was a 43 year old divorcee and single mother of five from the quiet middle class St.

[00:01:39]

Louis suburb of Richmond Heights. She was a military woman, and while she recuperated from injuries due to a motorcycle accident, the former Army recruiter and respected air traffic controller was in the process of earning her master's degree in corrections work, working hard to put food on the table for her family. But according to those who would later be interviewed by the press and those who would later investigate her, Barbara Oswald's early years were a bit more chaotic.

[00:02:10]

We determined that while I don't know if she was ever actually arrested for prostitution, she was somehow tangentially involved in prostitution.

[00:02:20]

As a young girl that's retired FBI agent Bill Gavin, who was part of what is known as a reactive squad, which tries to put together background on crimes after they've been committed, then tried to make her way out of it by joining the army and developing some legitimacy in her life.

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And that's where she got familiar with the air traffic controllers and things like that while she was in the army when she was 17, she started turning tricks and then stopped after she met my stepfather, who was a crook.

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Those are the words of one of Barbara Oswald's daughters who asked to be referred to as mama and agreed to an interview about the events that happened to her family in 1977 and 1978. This is one of the few interviews NPR has ever agreed to on the condition that we not use her real voice. So we are reading directly from the transcript of a recorded interview instead.

[00:03:18]

Basically, he was her pimp. My stepfather was they were running stolen goods, all sorts of stolen stuff.

[00:03:26]

We lived on Zephyr and Maplewood and the cops were pounding on the door and my mom kept screaming, show me your warrant, show me your warrant.

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And I remember being scared and grabbing one kid and hiding underneath the bed.

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When she went to the military, she did a complete 180. She was the first woman on duty with a minor dependent. And so she spread the kids amongst the family.

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She was also the first woman in the history of the Army to graduate NGO commission with honors.

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It suited her and she did really, really, really well. She made rank right away.

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A New York Times reporter would later interview friends and neighbors who describe Barbara Oswald as someone who rose quickly in the ranks at her job in the Army and as someone who, quote, delighted all the time in pulling the wool over Uncle Sam's eyes about her past.

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They said she was street smart and a big talker, that she lived by her wits and always wanted to make it big one day. Military medical records also reveal that Barbara had been in a motorcycle accident in 1973, leaving her with chronic injuries to her spine in late nineteen seventy five. She was relieved of duty and shipped back to St. Louis, where she would try to recover and figure out her next move. Shortly thereafter, she went back to school pursuing a master's degree in the hopes of starting a new chapter in her life.

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So why then would a mother, a decorated military officer and a self-made woman like Barbara Oswald find herself holding a loaded pistol to the head of a helicopter pilot as they hovered above the most dangerous prison in America, orchestrating a daring escape of federal prisoners in broad daylight?

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To try and truly understand the mystery behind Barbara Oswald's actions, we have to go back back to the early 70s to a book written about Garrett Trapnell by a remarkably talented writer at the heart of New York City's literary establishment. A man named Eliot Ashenoff. This is American Skyjacker, the final flight of Martin McNelly, I'm your host, Danny Whisnant Housekeep. In our six episode, we examine the motivations of Barbara Oswald, the woman who hijacked a helicopter and directed it to marry in prison to jailbreak both Garett Trapnell and Martin McNally.

[00:06:18]

My father was a jock and he was owned by the Philadelphia Phillies organization for his entire life from age 18 until he died because he was signed before the free agents clause came into effect. So in those days when a ball club purchased your contract, they owned you for life.

[00:06:41]

That's Morton Ashenoff, writer Elliott Asimov's son, long before he ever crossed paths with Gary Trapnell. Before you could even call himself an author, Elliot played baseball. He played for the Phillies for a little while in their farm system, went into World War Two and served four years in the Aleutian Islands as a lieutenant. He managed the base newspaper and radio because he had a degree in English. His corporal was Dashiell Hammett, the writer who created a detective noir genre.

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My dad was a twenty one year old lieutenant and Dashiell Hammett was a 40 year old corporal after the war. He was sort of radicalized when he came home and found many of his friends had died in the war. And America had fourteen thousand new millionaires who had profited from the war profiteering. Aimless and now searching for a new career, Eliot moved to New York City in the late 1940s, drawn to the creative pulse of Manhattan's vibrant arts and entertainment scene.

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My father was very excited by theater and movies and books and part and stuff like that, and he was dating Rita Moreno at the time and she wanted to go see all of the plays.

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Yes, that's the same Rita Moreno, who more than a decade later would win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in West Side Story and was recently honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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So they went to see Mr. Roberts, where my mother was the female lead, the only female in the cast at the time. Oh, I guess I should mention my mother's name was Jocelyn Brando, her brother was Marlon Brando.

[00:08:49]

After the show, they went out to eat and there was Jocelyn and Marlon at the table and they sat down and had dinner together. And by the end of the meal, Marlon had the hots for Rita Moreno. And my dad ended up taking Jocelin home and that's where they got together. She was just finishing a divorce at the time when my mother got divorced from her, her husband. Then my dad married her the next weekend. And I came along a year or two after that.

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With his experience writing for the military and his connections to both the literary and show business worlds, asanas passion for writing had the necessary springboard to become a real career. He was advised, as so many young writers are, to write what you know. So Ashenoff wrote about baseball publishing his first novel, Man on Spikes to Wide Critical Acclaim, a book which would later be inducted into the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame as one of the greatest pieces of baseball literature ever written.

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From their Asanov moved his young family to Hollywood, where his wife could further her acting career and he could work as a screenwriter in the burgeoning new medium known as television.

[00:10:18]

Earlier in his career, he was working for Warner Brothers, writing Westerns. And it was very funny.

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They brought out loads of New York Jewish writers and they were all living in the Hollywood Hawai'ian Hotel in Hollywood. And this was Woody Allen and other New York writers that they were trying to get work in Hollywood.

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And it was during that time that he was blacklisted of interest. To note, after the Freedom of Information Act came out, he was able to get his FBI file to find out why was he blacklisted.

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It turns out that he his career was ruined. You know, he lost his livelihood because he had signed a petition outside of Yankee Stadium to say that he felt that Jackie Robinson should be able to play in the major leagues. And for that, he was listed as a communist and blacklisted. It was this experience of being blacklisted by Joseph McCarthy and the Hollywood establishment at the time, as well as his experiences with the military machine and that of professional baseball that informed Elliott Ashenoff and his writing over the course of his career.

[00:11:31]

One of the concepts and threads that is woven throughout my father's work was the theme that in America and the world, the fix is always in and in all of his works. He brings this little concept in because that was something he felt that the American people should be conscious of. Everything from the price of gas to the presidential election is always the fix is in. Is he firmly believed that? And he went to great lengths to prove it. I'm sure my father felt that the fix was in in terms of the whole blacklisting era because he had been blacklisted for signing a petition letting Jackie Robinson play in the major leagues.

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He did not see that that was a reason to brand him as a communist. And what he saw was that that was just a tool that McCarthy and then people in Hollywood had to use to steal people's work. And because writers at that point had many projects going and then they were blacklisted and let out what their work was retained by the studio. So I'm sure he felt that that was a thread that had to do with him and the industry and the government and the society as a whole.

[00:12:49]

After being blacklisted from Hollywood and his marriage ending in divorce, Ashenoff returned to New York City and to writing what he knew. His next book was the dramatized nonfiction classic Eight Men Out about the Chicago Black Sox fixing the 1919 World Series. The critical and commercial success of the book resurrected Asimov's career, allowing him to examine the American fix from a number of other perspectives. And in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was no shortage of American institutions to dissect and expose in his writing.

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This philosophy is what ultimately led Elliott Ashenoff to visit Garra Trapnell in prison, beginning work on a book about this Criminals Wild Life.

[00:13:37]

I remember him writing The Fox is crazy, too, because it was such a great story. He was very interested in not only the story, but the man. He did all of this crime and he never hurt one soul. Not one drop of blood was ever done. And he had a kind of a Robin Hood esque position on it into the fact that he only robbed institutions. Then there was this business of the McNaughton ruling, which is a an old English law ruling that says if you're insane, you cannot be held accountable for your crime.

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And Garrett travaille had a very high IQ and in prison, he studied the whole psychiatry stuff, and he realized in the most subtle way how he would convey insanity to the psychiatrists, not by acting goofy, but by insinuating this and a nuance of that. And the psychiatrists wanting to pretend that they were smarter than him would immediately pick up on it and go, oh, man, this guy's crazy. And my father loved the idea of sort of exposing the McNaughton ruling for what it was and that he had beat the American judicial system with the use of the McNaughton ruling at the time.

[00:15:03]

Trapnell was behind bars at Marion Penitentiary in Illinois, soon to be reunited with a fellow skyjacker, Martin McNally. He would get to Marion, Illinois, and get a hotel room and go in and start interviewing shrapnel and shrapnel and say, Hey, Hemingway and my dad go, Yeah, convict.

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They became friends because, you know, Trapnell wanted his story told. And my dad was an interesting guy and knew how to knew how to ask the right questions and pick up on the nuances and stuff like that. And they became such good friends. As I recall, he had two of Garratt shrapnels, Rolex watches in his desk that he was giving for draft now. In 1976, Antonovs narrative biography of Garrett Trapnell was published, entitled The Fox is Crazy to the True Story of Garrett Trapnell, adventurer skyjacker Bankrobber.

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It was a book of pure pulp adventure, and it had mixed reviews from critics. The New York Times, as Tracey Johnson noted in his review, that while Trapnell is a, quote, journalist's dream, the journalist in question, Asanov had produced a true story that used Trapnell as its only source. And therefore, the book, quote, raises some interesting questions about the author's journalistic methodology. Martin Asanov disputes this assumption.

[00:16:34]

Well, my father as a writer felt that research was all and he always, with all of his books, spent an exhaustive amount of time interviewing people. He interviewed everybody he could ever talk to.

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Trapnell family, perhaps the literary establishment just couldn't believe a man like you're a Trapnell could have lived the life Ashenoff glorified on the page. Still, the next critical reception to the Fox is crazy to translated to middling sales because of the fix is in. I aspect of that book, I believe that it was not touted by the publishers, it was not properly advertised, it was not properly distributed, and lots of my father's books were treated that way.

[00:17:28]

However, the fox is crazy to still manage to gather in underground following, due in part to the unbelievable, exciting story told as a modern reference Think Catch Me if you can meets James Bond. Arsenal's beautiful writing described Trapnell as a larger than life character, complicated, yet expertly driven, fragile, yet godlike. Here's Martin reading from his father's book. Brilliant, complex, insane. Above all, he was a man with a rage, he raged against the established order, the system, as he referred to it, with intent to beat it in every way he could.

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He became a genius at conceiving and executing all manner of schemes. He was a bandit, a highwayman, a brigand from the romantic era. He lived by a rigorous called the values that precluded violence. He never robbed a working man. His targets were always institutions of the system banks, supermarkets, credit emporiums. He was always polite to those he had to control as he was contemptuous of the institutions they worked for. He saw the present with a clinically cold eye, and it was all a cheat.

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The laws were made by hypocrites for fools to obey, expending themselves to make enough money to buy a show of affluence. The worst joke of all was that the biggest rip offs commanded the greatest dignity. Couldn't everybody see that only the cheats and swindlers and the exploiters were rich? There's no dignity in being a hustler, no self pride. When you hustle somebody, you lose a piece of yourself. You compromise everything in yourself you want to believe in.

[00:19:21]

A little chunk of it goes every time. There's real power in great writing like this, a testament to Elliot Asimov's talent and perhaps to Garrett shrapnels influence on him through their interviews. This power and influence would be embedded in the language of the fox is crazy, too, and transferred to those who read it. Most notably, a teenage girl in St. Louis who would get her hands on the book in late 1977 and bring it home, reportedly leaving it on the living room coffee table where her mother would pick it up and begin reading, this teenage girl was named Robin Oswald and her mother was Barbara Oswald.

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Barbara was first introduced to the mercurial and charismatic Sarah Trapnell through Asimov's words. And by the final page of the book, she had begun a transformation that would change her life and the lives of her family. Forever. Buried cash, d.E.A, moles, skydiving planes, a group of college friends took advantage of Colorado's marijuana laws to traffic thousands of pounds of pot out of state for sale on the black market.

[00:20:51]

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. 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 Kielinger 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.

[00:21:38]

Host Alex Schoeman, a news reporter from the Midwest, has been chasing Father Ryan's story for years.

[00:21:44]

The craziest part is that Alex also gets an exclusive sit down interview with Ryan himself.

[00:21:50]

And in it, he reveals a shocking secret. Smokescreen Fake Priest is coming Thursday, subscribe and follow fake priest now on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts to find out the shocking secret.

[00:22:10]

Barbara Oswald read his book, The Fox is crazy, too, in November or December of nineteen seventy seven, and she wrote him a letter when he got that letter in late December, early January of 1978. He immediately responded to it.

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By the time Barbara Oswald first made contact with Garret Trapnell in Marion Penitentiary, Martin McNelly was there to witness the correspondence firsthand. Barbara had become enamored with Trapnell, or at least with the version of Trapnell presented in the pages of the Fox is crazy to Barbara's daughter. Anmar remembers this clearly. He sucked her in. Here was somebody who really knew what was up and had been around the block a few times and still got sucked in. They exchanged letters, quite a few letters and everything, and she wanted to come and visit him, so he was able to have her put on his visiting list.

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And when she came to the prison, they would talk and everything and talk about life and so forth. And she fell for him. I don't know why, but she fell for him and he saw a possibility.

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I remember seeing her one day and she was really dressed up. She looked nice makeup's pantsuits, like from Saks.

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And I said, Where are you going? And she said, Going to visit Garratt.

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Over a period of about, I would say, less than a month, he mentioned that she could possibly help him escape and if she can do that, he could take her to his estate in Australia. He told her that he had a diamond mind, a resort when the place was called Hernando's Hideaway. And he had a picture of this, but he convinced her that she could help him escape and she could become a helicopter pilot just to rent a helicopter and come in there and pull him out.

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Well, he's getting these letters. I'm reading them, too. And he comes into my cell in late January, I think it was knocks on the door. He says, how would you like to leave here in a helicopter after reading Elliot asanas book and beginning to visit Trapnell at Maryan Prison, Barbara Oswald was ready to sacrifice everything she had built over her entire adult life her friends, her family, her career to help this man escape. How is something like this possible?

[00:25:21]

Retired FBI agent Jim Nelson, who foiled shrapnels hijacking years earlier, still doesn't have an answer. The annals are full of situations where women have been susceptible to men in prison. For whatever reason, the excitement captivates them. And I succumb to these people throughout history and certainly in this country. So Trapnell situation is not unique. You probably have to look more into Barbara Oswal than you look so much in the trapnell, because why was she so susceptible to that sort of thing?

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Why was she naive enough to to buy into that? What had reading the Fox is crazy to triggered in Barbara, and once she began visiting Trapnell, what did he say to her in those initial meetings? How did he reel her in? These questions where the core focus of FBI Agent Bill Gavin's investigation, we try to peel back that a little bit to say what was her relationship with Trapnell?

[00:26:25]

And we were able to determine that it was kind of a romantic in quotes relationship that she had with him, he had a lot of women on his list. He was telling everybody how he loved them and trying to get everybody to do what he eventually got Barbara to do. And that's the way he played upon women. He was kind of a magnetic personality. M.R. saw Trapnell as the predator, too, but also recognized her mother's personal vulnerabilities. She was a woman.

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She was getting older and her beauty was starting to fade. I think she'd gotten lonely.

[00:27:03]

I think she was in love with love. If she looked at it objectively, that was not the person to have your infatuation with. They weren't lovers. She was in love with him, but that was different. She wasn't a stupid woman who was lovestruck. That couldn't be further from the truth. She was intense. She was assertive. She knew how to take care of herself. It was just trapped. Now, she was tired of being alone.

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While a complete understanding of why Barbara Oswald felt with such reckless abandon into Garret Shrapnels Web is an ongoing mystery. What is clear is that she continued to visit him and that in between those visits, Trap and Mack continued to plot.

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So within the next couple of days, he and I discussed a helicopter escape. I said, yeah, this sounds good. What we need to do is make sure Barbara is a competent pilot to do this and we can send her to school and get her instructed.

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We can probably get that done within six months. He agreed. But what happened is that the prison began to build a guard tower in front of the penitentiary right in front of the administration building there today. When I saw this tower going up, I told Trapnell, I says we can't wait for Barbara to become competent as a pilot. They're building a tower. We got to move fast. That's what jumped up the move to commandeer a helicopter.

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Part of these expedited escape preparations entailed Trap and Mak bringing another prisoner into their plans, a convict named Kenny Johnson, who had been transferred to Marion for escaping from the prison where he had been held in Oklahoma. The plan at that point was as follows.

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Barbara Oswald would hijack a helicopter and landed in the Marion Penitentiary prison yard, pick up, trap Mack and Kenny Johnson and then fly away. All four prison officials could stop them. We were going to leave the prison at Marion and go thirty three miles due west to the airport and Perryville, Missouri.

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And we were going to take a plane and we were going to go down south and land in the morning.

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Kenny Johnson and myself, we're going to go into a town and rob a bank, get the cash, come back to the plane and take off again.

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I do remember asking her where she was going to go. She said we're going to Australia because they don't have extradition. Let's just pause and consider their plan for a moment, successful prison escapes are rarely this simple and for good reason. Even seasoned B movie filmmakers would take issue with this one for its lack of realism, specifically the whole helicopter escape part. What prompted this idea in the first place, up until this point, there had only been two recorded helicopter escapes from prison ever in the entire world, the most notorious being from Mexico City's harsh Santa, Martha Akintola prison.

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And finally, the story of one of the most unusual prison breaks in history.

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It happened last night in Mexico City in a true tale almost as audacious as Mac and Trappes. Joel David Kaplan, an American businessman and the heir to the Dunbar Molasses fortune, had been convicted of murdering his business partner in what many later believed to be a political assassination for the CIA. After a few disastrous escape attempts, Kaplan's sister hired a helicopter to fly into the Akela prison, painting it blue to look identical to the Mexican attorney general's helicopter, with prison officials believing the attorney general was stopping by for an impromptu visit.

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The helicopter arrived at a time when all the prisoners were out in the yard. The helicopter flew into the prison, landed Kaplan and another prisoner hopped on board and the helicopter took off, whisking them away to freedom. Soon, the press will get a hold of this remarkable story. A writer would approach the Kaplan's and the others involved with a proposal to write a book. They would agree the book would be entitled 10 Second Jailbreak. And that writers name.

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Elliot Ashenoff. In fact, during our Off and Shrapnels jailhouse interviews over the course of 1975, the film adaptation of 10 Second Jailbreak called Breakout and starring Charles Bronson and Robert Duvall was released in theaters nationwide.

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I'll pay you tomorrow after we get back before we take off. If you insist, then we made ourselves a deal. Not quite. The fee included an aeroplane or. Oh, we got one of those. I have no doubt that during my father's communication with Trapnell that they discussed his book, 10 Second Jailbreak, in which a helicopter was used for the jailbreak of this American businessman out of the Mexican prison, Imar confirmed the story was referenced in Barbara's discussions with Trapnell.

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I remember her telling me that, but her plan was in not believing her. And she was like, yeah, like in that movie Jailbreak. And I said, Nah, I blew it off. I actually did not believe her. She told everybody and everybody in my family blew it off. She tended to be full of shit at times. However, unlike the Ocotillo Prison in Mexico City, Marion Penitentiary had much stronger security. Even if they did manage to escape by helicopter, they would have better equipped and coordinated law enforcement at their heels.

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Of course, a daring prison escape is exactly what one would expect from the likes of Garrett Shrapnel and Martin McNally, and there were actually distant odds that they could pull something like this off. So with the plan more or less in place, Trapnell decided to put the wheels in motion without consulting Mack first. To women who hoped to evade the ticking clock of time, Dr. Frederick Brandt was the most potent drug dealer in the world and the dealer got high on his own supply.

[00:34:19]

From Imperative Entertainment and the team behind Broken Hearts comes a new series that will challenge everything you know about fame, fortune and the fear of growing old. I'm Justin Harmon and this is the baron of Botox. Available now from Imperative Entertainment in Texas Monthly, a new 10 part podcast series called Boomtown about the biggest oil boom in history. Boomtown takes you to a rugged corner of West Texas, where roughnecks and billionaire wildcatters are fueling a boom so big it's reshaping our climate, our economy and our geopolitics.

[00:34:57]

We'll get an inside look at the people cashing in and those whose lives are turned upside down. Find weekly episodes of Boomtown wherever you get your podcasts. I was staying at her house, she told me what she was going to do. She told me the plan, she said, oh, we'd make a great team and I was like, are you nuts? I remember sitting on the floor of her bedroom, just, are you crazy? I remember asking her, what if you get killed?

[00:35:41]

And she said, if I do, I do, but I won't.

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She was so overly confident. The plan was this. First of all, I impressed on Trapnell that under no circumstances should Barbara grab the helicopter on the same day that she came to the prison simply because you had to be mentally alert at least one hundred and ten percent. You couldn't do that if she comes to the prison to visit him and then then takes the helicopter. And what happened is that. She did come to the prison. In the morning on the 24th of May, nineteen seventy eight, and then she left to go back to St.

[00:36:43]

Louis, Trapnell came to my door. He said, we're leaving tonight. I said, you just came back from a visit with her. He says, yes, we're leaving tonight. And I sat down, I laid down in my bed, it's one o'clock in the afternoon, I'm actually twiddling my thumbs thinking to myself, Jesus Christ, what the hell has he done now? We got to stop this. How can we stop this? Well, in analyzing how to stop it, it was impossible to stop it because he couldn't contact her.

[00:37:37]

He couldn't make a phone call out of the prison to call anybody on this matter because counselors close up their phones. I didn't approach Trapnell and jump on him about his failure to adhere to competent procedures. And it's. I let it ride, but I'm telling you, I was worried because I know that Barbara wouldn't be 100 percent mentally fit and able to pull this off, just too complicated.

[00:38:14]

Still stressful while Max concerns were valid. He had no choice but to stay calm and carry on. He couldn't back out now. What if Barbara pulled off the helicopter hijacking? This would be his moment to escape, to start over, to begin again. He, Trapp and Kenny Johnson would have to be ready according to plan. We went to chow and we came back from chow down. Usually the door opens up for the yard recreation yard at approximately four, 30 p.m..

[00:38:59]

Everybody is back in their cell house and everything in it, so I start walking out into the corridor to check to see if the yard is open. For approximately 45 minutes, the door wasn't open and this was unusual and I came back and I told Trappe Kenny. We may have a problem here. There may be a problem in St. Louis because that door to the yard brickyard as an open is isn't open. It should be open. And I'm worried about this.

[00:39:39]

I checked the corridor again and I saw that the door was open. I went back to trap Kenny. I says the door is open. We're going we're on. No glitches. So all three of us head out to the yard. And while we are on the yard, there was about 200 people on the yard for recreation. We were in place. Trapnell was under a bird cage there and he could see the area that the chopper was going to be coming in.

[00:40:15]

Kenny Johnson and I were next to be black, which is one of the units we couldn't see out into the area that the chopper would be coming in. At approximately six, maybe six, five, six, 10, we looked up and we could hear the chopper, it was at 5000 feet at that time. So we're looking up at it and I looked over a trap and I says, OK. The noise of the chopper was going like this, like a muffled sound.

[00:40:57]

And then it went to a high pitch. When it went to a high pitch, I knew it was in the Bay Area. It's over the trees and it's only about 500 feet to the prison. I immediately when I heard that I pitch, I scream. Now move. Trapnell took off running. Kenny Johnson took off running. I took off running. And we're running. We got to go about 75 feet to the area that's near the fence so that we can run down the fence line to the area that we're going to board the chopper as we're running, we're running at full speed.

[00:41:44]

And I'm telling you, it seemed like we were going in slow motion. And I'm think, damn, at any moment here we can get shot in the back. But what happened is that we got to the place where we were supposed to be and the guard tower didn't even snap to any of this going down. Unbelievable. Trapnell No down the yellow jacket. And I'm standing up. I'm going I'm waving like this. Come on. Bring it down.

[00:42:12]

Bring it down. That never happened. Unbeknownst to the convicts on the ground or Barbara Oswald in the air, the man piloting the hijacked helicopter was no Hoby pilot. His name was Al Anbar College, and he would prove to be the X factor in this wild prison escape. I'm like this and I hear the chopper, the rotor in place. It's not moving. I leaned over to traffic and I said, we got a problem. Next time on American Skyjacker, we explore the legend of Al Anbar klegg.

[00:43:06]

He reached back and grabbed her gun and they started wrestling while they're doing that. The aircraft starts falling out of the sky. It was probably out of all the experiences in his life, probably the most impactful on him. I think it impacted him in two different ways. He he felt good about it, but he also felt really bad about it. But with Alan, you always saw the good. He never let that other side show. You never saw Alan sad or unhappy.

[00:43:34]

He always had a smile on his face. He was a lucky guy, but he was you know, he was a guy that took chances.

[00:43:41]

You keep taking chances and sooner or later, something's going to come back to bite you. But. American skyjacker is written, created and produced by Ellen Kooris and Joshua Schaffer of Penélope Pictures, executive produced by Jason Hoak and produced by Andrew Richards of Imperative Entertainment, hosted and co-produced by myself.

[00:44:13]

Danny Wasn't Housekeep co-produced and Sound, edited by Nick Snackers, 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 Penélope Pictures.

[00:45:02]

Follow us on Instagram at American Skyjacker or at or pictures. And please write and review the podcast on whatever platform you listen to. Thanks again for listening. As promised, here's a special preview of the new podcast, the syndicated, but don't forget, you can listen to episodes right now by subscribing on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:45:35]

Here's the trailer college.

[00:45:38]

You get an education, you plan for your future, build a circle of lifelong friends and figure out how to make money, real money, late night binge drinking, hard partying, money, cocaine, girls, booze, you know, I mean, we're exchanging half a million dollars at a time stashed in the mountains kind of money, a bag full of cash with a GPS tracking device on it.

[00:46:08]

And as it just keeps rushing in, you're rolling in it.

[00:46:11]

I felt like I was on top of the world. I didn't think there was anything to worry about.

[00:46:16]

But all good things must come to an end and wow, what an end.

[00:46:24]

And they come right out and throw me down.

[00:46:26]

Had me pinned down against the ground rifle to my head and suddenly you and all your best college pals aren't such good friends anymore.

[00:46:37]

My name is Chris Walker and over 10 episodes I'm going to walk you through a world of big money and big risks and introduce you to a tight knit group of friends who thought they were untouchable.

[00:46:51]

These guys are so cocky and arrogant until they weren't DEA. We like to use the terms, disrupt and dismantle. There's some organizations that we disrupt. This organization we dismantled from Foxo pissing in imperative entertainment. This is the syndicate.