The "Argo" Rescue and Transocean Airlines
As told by Captain Rodney Stich
The movie, Argo, and Transocean Airlines personnel, had connections. It was in 1953, John Russell had one plane and I had the other, with Chuck Sisto as my copilot. It was especially interesting to me because of my experiences as a captain for Transocean Airlines. Part of the Argo movie took place at the Tehran Airport, where I made numerous flights. Also, the Argo plot was a later development from events that I found myself in one morning: an Iranian revolution, fomented by our CIA. I was an airline captain flying Muslim pilgrims from Tehran and many other Middle East locations during the hajj.
Several of the Transocean Airlines crewmembers were staying in a hotel in Abadan, as part of our contract flying Muslim pilgrims from throughout the Middle East to Jeddah. From Jeddah, the Muslim pilgrims were bused to Mecca and Medina.
Upon arising one morning and sitting in the lobby of the hotel where we were staying, excitement by two clerks at the check-in desk caught my attention. They were listening with alarm at what was being stated on the radio, which was in the Iranian language and not understandable to us. Periodically, the Iranians at the front desk changed the picture on the wall behind them. It was periodically changed from the presently elected Mosaddegh to the Shah. This change occurred several times.
About half an hour after I first observed the actions of the clerks, the head of security, from Holland, entered the hotel and came up to me and stated it was essential that we leave immediately. He was providing a machine gun escort from the hotel to the airport where our plane was parked. I think we were packed and leaving the hotel within ten minutes.
On another interesting matter, it was on that assignment that Ed Foster, handling scheduling, had me take a flight that hadnít been done before. It was to fly Muslim pilgrims from Jeddah to the desert outside of Medina. There were some obstacles. There was no airport, no buildings, and no phones. I had to land on unprepared ground, alongside the edge of a lava flow.
The biggest problem occurred after we offloaded the hajj and were ready to depart. One of the engine starters failed to work. Here we were, in the desert, unable to enter Medina as we were not Muslims. And there was no phone to call for help. I got on the radio and broadcast in the blind on a frequency that I assumed other aircraft were on. Luck. A BOAC pilot flying overhead heard my call, and relayed the message to Transocean personnel in Jeddah that I needed a starter motor and mechanic. Fortunately that help arrived before nightfall and we were able to depart.
The CIA-engineered revolution had other major ramifications, including October Surprise. Years later, I learned from two of my CIA confidants, who were part of that covert October Surprise operation, the many details. I write about them in my book, Defrauding America.