Knik River, Part 1: The Super Cub Abduction Dance

Robert Hansen’s Super Cub held the promise of taking his victims deeper into the bush, to places no vehicle could reach. What he wanted — needed — more than anything were spots far from prying eyes. Rapes and murders were not acts for others to witness.

Having already had close calls with his vehicles — getting stuck in the bush was always a risk, as were rebellious victims — his switch to the airplane proved to have its own set of challenges (as Cindy Paulson’s escape ultimately proved). During his confession, he walked authorities through the ritual of getting his victims into the plane. More often than not, it worked.

[Transcript lightly edited for clarity]

Robert Hansen’s Confession: Into the Airplane (audio)

RH: I walked around her side of the car, opened her door and got her up and turned around out on the seat. [Then I took her] around behind the wing strut — and she’s still handcuffed behind, you know. I grab her by the arms and let her put her feet up on the step and walk her feet on in and then she sits down. Once she’s inside — again she’s pretty much confined, can’t move.

Cindy Paulson never got this far. She was lucky.

Then again there’s a period there where I have to go back out and get in my car and just move it fifteen feet. You know, I told her what I’m going to do, you know, that I’m going to be watching you, you start getting out of the airplane, please don’t do it because I don’t want a bunch of holes in the side of airplane, where I have to shoot you through the side of the airplane, you know. I said something to that effect to them always. And ah, she and the other two just sat there boy, didn’t even blink an eye…

The trick was to quickly get the Super Cub into the air, so the tower didn’t see Hansen’s tail number or identify his plane.

I would pick the airplane up, and you know, a hundred feet so, my gosh, I was — like if I took off — I took off on six going out, you know, or two-four… I’d be a thousand feet in the air by the time I reached the tower. I mean, I was way above it. If I want to pull it back, you know, I can break around and almost stand it on the nose, you know.

[Then] you swing around and go on north. I got out of there, you know.

Robert Hansen’s Super Cub (Anchorage Times)

GF: How in the world did you control them in the airplane? I would think you being up front, and them in the back, I’d be petrified they’d grab me by the neck of something?

RH: No, no, no, no, they were hand cuffed in the airplane, plus, once I get the damn thing off the ground, I don’t care if they screamed, yelled or fussed, what the hell could they do in the airplane, they are sitting in the back of the airplane, I don’t suppose any one of them can fly but there’s no controls in the back of the airplane anyway.

GF: You weren’t nervous they were behind you?

RH: Well, I, you know, I’m not saying I wasn’t concerned about it but I’m saying that that was, I thought, a hell of a lot safer than in the car.

VK: How did you get them not to scream when you went to Merill Field. You know there were a lot of airplanes there.

RH: It just never happened.

GF: You just had them under control.

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