Is Francisco “El Flaco” Marulanda Inspired by an Actual TV Journalist?

The Hijacking of Flight 601′ introduces several elements into its narrative to explore the base storyline of a drastic plane hijacking scenario that goes on for hours on end. As such, while characters like hijackers Borja and Toro or Flight Attendants Edilma and Maria focus on the central plot of the plane hijacking, other characters are able to bring in different adjacent perspectives to round out the overarching tale. For instance, characters such as Julio Cesar Esguerra and Alvaro Aristides Pirateque provide insight into the political and airline managerial narratives involved in the hijacking.

Pirateque’s media contact in Aruba, Francisco “El Flaco” Marulanda, is one such character whose TV Anchor career drives his journalistic storyline within the show. Therefore, due to the show’s true story-inspired disposition, Marulanda and his news show’s connection to real-life journalism naturally comes under questioning.

Francisco “El Flaco” Marulanda: A Fictional Journalist

Even though ‘The Hijacking of Flight 601’ is based on a true story, namely the 1973 hijacking of SAM Colombia Flight HK-1274, the show fictionalizes certain events and details to plot a cinematic counterpart of the real-life event. For the same reason, the show significantly draws from real-life people, especially the hijackers, flight attendants, and even pilots, for their on-screen characters. Even so, the narrative allows room for creative liberty when it comes to secondary characters with less prominent influence over the plot.

As a result of the same, Francisco “El Flaco” Marulanda’s character emerges— a fictional journalist who ventures into the hijacked aircraft to report the situation, only to end up becoming one of the hostages himself. Consequently, the character and his impulsive choices as a professional make for engaging plotlines and highlight the media scrutiny that such a drastic hijacking might garner. In fact, during the real-life hijacking of Flight HK-1274, one journalist, Gonzalo Valencia, known for his work in sports columns, closely followed the case to update the public on it.

Nevertheless, Valencia, a journalist from Pereira, had no direct involvement in the hijacking and was never taken hostage. In fact, he played a much more significant role later on when the police were investigating the identity of the hijackers— later identified as Eusebio Borja and Francisco Solano López. Not only that— but according to reports, the real-life hijackers refused to allow any journalists near the aircraft during the times that it was landed at any airport. The same was likely a precaution to ensure complete control remained in the hands of the hijackers. Likewise, they also sported a policy of no police and no representative from the aircraft’s airline, Sociedad Aeronáutica de Medellín (SAM).

Therefore, the possibility of a real-life individual who shares a narrative with the show’s Francisco “El Flaco” Marulanda seems slim to none. Thus, Marulanda’s character remains confined to the fictionalized narrative of ‘The Hijacking of Flight 601,’ infusing the story with journalistic themes. While his influence over the storyline added a unique perspective, it is ultimately rendered fictitious. Likewise, given the character’s fictionality, his TV show, “601: An Aerospace Odyssey,” briefly referenced in the tale, also becomes a fictional element.

Read More: Is Aerobolivar a Real Airline Company? Is Flight 601 Based on an Actual Plane?