FBI and Delta Team up to Transport Stolen ‘Wizard of Oz’ Slippers to Smithsonian

Sep 12, 2018

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We’ve seen commercial airliners carry some pretty remarkable people, objects and animals, but Dorothy’s ruby red slippers? That’s another level entirely. Turns out, the iconic red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” were stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Some 13 years later, Delta Air Lines helped bring ’em back.

Delta’s Dan Wellcome, operations service manager at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, received an unusual phone call on July 11, 2018. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation was on the other end, requesting a very specific arrangement. Three seats, all in the same row, to carry a couple of folks and a “high-value object” from Minneapolis to Washington, DC. They also needed to ensure that their package wouldn’t be forced to go overhead; rather, it would need to occupy a middle seat all its own.

Delta MSP
Looks like a typical day at MSP airport, but you never know… (Photo by the author / The Points Guy)

Now that the FBI has disclosed the reason for the trip, Mike Robles, one of the flight attendants on board, recounts the journey. “They pre-boarded with the package, and I offered them coffee and snacks,” Robles said. “They told me they had been busy traveling in the last few days and were transporting a ‘high-profile package.’ It was in a box with a fragile sticker and highly guarded.”

Dawn Wallace, a conservator for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, analyzes one of the recovered slippers at the Smithsonian's Conservation Lab in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institute)
Dawn Wallace, a conservator for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, analyzes one of the recovered slippers at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Lab in Washington, DC (Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institute)

Flight attendant Samantha Taylor chimed in with a story of her own: “We fly so many different law enforcement officers, political figures and celebrities that sometimes, I think we’re accustomed to not being surprised. But I would’ve never guessed Dorothy’s slippers were in a package safeguarded by the FBI onboard not one, but two flights I worked.”

Dorothy herself signed the inside of the recovered slippers (Photo courtesy of www.fbi.gov)
Dorothy herself signed the inside of the recovered slippers (Photo courtesy of www.fbi.gov)

As for the slippers? They were recovered in a sting operation that ended in Minneapolis, and once they landed in DC, they were “transported to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History — where a second pair has been on display since 1979 — for comparison.” Said museum most definitely has nods that AvGeeks all the world over can appreciate, and now, a rosy pair of shoes adds to the legacy.

Featured photo courtesy of www.fbi.gov.

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