The plane crash of Omar Torrijos. During this period the United States still controlled the Canal Zone and had immense influence in various areas of the country (including economic influence). Omar Torrijos Mausoleum in Amador, Panama City, in the former Canal Zone. Background. In 1983 he succeeded to the command of the National Guard, unified the armed forces into the Panamanian Defense Forces, and promoted himself to the rank of general. He was killed in a plane crash. (Studio) Death of Panamanian leader General Omar Torrijos in plane crash yesterday reported. Omar Torrijos was among the dead of the crash. Initially, investigators had some information about circumstances at the time of the accident: Marta Hill has an altitude of 3,432 feet and the plane crashed at 3,100 feet. He was killed in a plane crash. Greene travelled to Panama a total of five times, always as a close friends of Torrijos and Martínez. United States noted involved in search effort; Torrijos' rule recalled. Six years into Noriega’s rule, the United States decided to cut its economic assistance to Panama. This presentation was made to his son, Martín Torrijos, now the same age as his father in his heyday, and who had recently been elected president of Panama. Possible sabotage. Described as both a "wise and effective leader" and a dictator, Omar Torrijos took over the presidency of Panama by military coup in 1968. All 7 aboard killed. When Torrijos died in a plane crash in 1981, Noriega vied with other military and civilian leaders to gain the upper hand. He purchased the archive to be included in a memorial to his father being built in Panama. After recovering the bodies, investigations were begun by Panamanian authorities and the FBI. General Omar Torrijos: 52: Leader of Panama: Coclecito, Panama: Panamanian Air Force: The plane crashed under suspicious circumstances. File footage shown. Best noted for negotiating transfer of the Panama Canal from US to Panamanian control. General Torrijos died at the age of 52 when his aircraft, a DeHavilland Twin Otter (DHC-6), registered as FAP-205 of the Panamanian Air Force, crashed at Cerro Marta, in Coclesito, near Penonomé, Panama.The aircraft disappeared from radar during severe weather, but due to the limited nature of Panama's radar … REPORTER: Lesley Stahl (DC) Torrijos' body said recovered from wreckage; details given, map shown. Panamanian Dictator. In 1981, General Omar Torrijos was killed in a plane crash and his defense force leader General Manuel Noriega took power. Torrijos was killed in a suspicious plane crash in 1981. late 1970s he was considered to be the most feared man in Panama. Six years after Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera died in a mysterious plane crash, his legacy continues to dominate Panamanian politics. 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