TWA Pilot's Wife Says Her Husband is a Hero With PM-Plane-Bomb BjtThe Associated Press , Associated Press
Apr. 3, 1986 6:06 AM ET
UNDATED Undated (AP) _ TWA Capt. Richard ''Pete'' Petersen, who landed Flight 840 after a bomb exploded aboard it, ''really is a hero,'' says his wife, who is keenly aware of the dangers her husband faces.
''I'm just so proud of him. He's a great guy, a great pilot. He's safe and he saved all those lives,'' Linda Petersen said Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla., after her husband landed the crippled jet.
''After 16 years of marriage to a pilot you learn to accept the dangers,'' she said. ''If you thought about it all the time you'd be a basket case.''
An obscure Palestinian group called the Arab Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility for the bomb, which tore a hole in the Boeing 727 as it flew at 15,000 feet approaching Athens, Greece, from Rome. The four victims were sucked through the hole caused by the explosion, but the plane landed safely in Athens 10 minutes later. It had carried 111 passengers.
Mrs. Petersen said her husband began flying the overseas assignment that includes the Rome-Athens route two months ago.
''He keeps calm, absolutely,'' she said. ''He really is a hero.''
Petersen, 54, called his wife, but ''It was a short conversation and a very bad connection. He did tell me there was a bomb,'' she said. ''He wanted first to assure me that he was safe. And the second thing, he wanted to speak to the children. He talked to 4-year-old Tiffany, but she really didn't comprehend.''
Another child, Krista, 8, was in school, but Mrs. Petersen said she called the school so the child wouldn't hear news accounts and worry.
Petersen, a native of Omaha, Neb., moved with his family to Florida's Gulf Coast five years ago.
In Meadville, Pa., the parents of a flight attendant said their daughter, with only four week's experience, had no intention of quitting despite the blast aboard her flight.
''She said she was five rows away from the blast when it went off,'' said Robert Purdy, father of Cynthia Lynn Purdy, 21, a former beautician.
''She seemed to be very well composed and determined to go on. She loves to travel. She loves to work with people,'' said Purdy.
Her mother, Shirley, said her daughter called from Athens to say she was OK and that ''She sounded very calm. Her voice was very calm.''
Ms. Purdy had flown the Rome-to-Athens route three times since she was hired on March 7, her father said.
''We know that it's dangerous, especially now,'' Mrs. Purdy said. ''But you can't turn off the world because there's dangerous people in it.''