On January 16, 1996, Jimmy Buffett’s Grumman HU-16 Albatross, dubbed the Hemisphere Dancer, was shot at by Jamaican authorities as he taxied in the waters near Negril.
The Jamaicans had mistaken it for a drug-runner’s plane, though Jimmy had “only come for chicken.” On board the plane was Chris Blackwell from Island Records and U2’s Bono and his family.
Bono describes the incident in a Belfast Telegraph article:
“These boys were shooting all over the place. I felt as if we were in the middle of a James Bond movie — only this was real. It was absolutely terrifying and I honestly thought we were all going to die.
“Thank God we were safe and sound. My only concern was for their safety. It was very scary, let me tell you. You can’t believe the relief I felt when I saw the kids were okay.”
When they heard the shots, Bono, his wife Ali, and their children dove for cover fearing they were about to be killed. He was so shocked that he and his family left Jamaica and flew straight to Miami, Florida.
The Hemisphere Dancer escaped relatively unscathed except for a few bullet holes.
Buffett penned a tune about the incident: “Jamaica Mistaica”, which appeared on the 1996 album Banana Wind.
The Hemisphere Dancer
Excerpt from the song “Jamaica Mistaica”:
It was a beautiful day
The kind you’d want to toast
We were treetop flyin’
Movin’ west along the coast
Then we landed in the water
Just about my favorite thrill
When some assholes started firing
As we taxied to Negril
Just about to lose my temper
As I endeavored to explain
We had only come for chicken
We were not the ganja plane
Well you should have seen their faces
When they finally realized
We were not some coked up cowboys
Sportin’ guns and alibis
Back to Jamaica
Don’t you know we made a big mistaica
We’d be so sad if you told us goodbye
And we promise not to shoot you out of the sky
Well the word got out
All over the island
Friends, strangers, they were all apologizing
Some thought me crazy for bein’ way to nice
But it’s just another shitty day in paradise