Pas­sen­gers re­strain rant­ing Jetblue pi­lot

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY OSKAR GAR­CIA AND BETSY BLANEY

LAS VE­GAS | Pas­sen­gers on­board a Jetblue flight bound for Las Ve­gas on Tues­day tack­led and re­strained the plane’s cap­tain af­ter he was locked out of the cock­pit by crew mem­bers, screamed ‘they’re go­ing to take us down’ and ranted about al Qaeda and a pos­si­ble bomb on­board, pas­sen­gers said.

The cap­tain of Jetblue Air­ways Flight 191 from New York’s John F. Kennedy In­ter­na­tional Air­port had a “med­i­cal sit­u­a­tion” and the co-pi­lot di­verted the plane to land in Amar­illo, Texas, around 10 a.m., the air­line said.

Pas­sen­gers said the cap­tain stormed out of the cock­pit and started act­ing er­rat­i­cally and seemed dis­ori­ented. Tony An­tolino, a 40-year-old ex­ec­u­tive for a se­cu­rity firm, said the cap­tain walked to the back of the plane af­ter crew mem­bers tried to calm him down. He then be­gan yelling about an un­spec­i­fied threat linked to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They’re go­ing to take us down. They’re tak­ing us down. They’re go­ing to take us down. Say the Lord’s prayer. Say the Lord’s prayer,” the cap­tain screamed, ac­cord­ing to Mr. An­tolino.

Josh Redick, a pas­sen­ger sit­ting near the mid­dle of the plane, said the cap­tain seemed “irate” and was “spout­ing off about Afghanistan and souls and al Qaeda.”

The cap­tain then tried to reen­ter the cock­pit, but he was not al­lowed back in. The cap­tain had been ex­hibit­ing “er­ratic be­hav­ior,” so the co-pi­lot locked him out of the cock­pit, the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion said in a state­ment.

Gabriel Schonzeit, who was sit­ting in the third row, said the cap­tain said there could be a bomb on­board the flight.

“He started scream­ing about al Qaeda and pos­si­bly a bomb on the plane and Iraq and Iran and about how we were all go­ing down,” Mr. Schonzeit told the Amar­illo Globe-news.

An off-duty air­line cap­tain who just hap­pened to be a pas­sen­ger on the flight went to the flight deck and took over the du­ties of the ill cap­tain “once on the ground,” the air­line said in a state­ment. It didn’t elab­o­rate.

Shane Hel­ton, 39, of Quin­lan, Okla., said he saw emer­gency and se­cu­rity per­son­nel com­ing on and off the plane as it sat on the tar­mac at the Amar­illo air­port.

“They pulled one guy out on a stretcher and put him in an am­bu­lance,” said Mr. Hel­ton, who went to the air­port with his fi­ancee to see one of her sons off as he joined the Navy.

The FBI was co­or­di­nat­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion with the air­port po­lice, Amar­illo po­lice, the FAA and the Trans­porta­tion Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said agency spokes­woman Ly­dia Maese in Dal­las. She de­clined to say if any ar­rests had been made.

As a re­sult of the in­ci­dent, the FAA is likely to re­view the cap­tain’s med­i­cal certificate es­sen­tially a seal of ap­proval that the pi­lot is healthy. All pi­lots work­ing for sched­uled air­lines must have a first-class med­i­cal certificate. The cer­tifi­cates are re­quired to be re­newed ev­ery year if the pi­lot is un­der 40, ev­ery six months if 40 or over.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Emer­gency work­ers tend to a Jetblue cap­tain who was locked out of the cock­pit by crew mem­bers dur­ing a New York-to-las Ve­gas flight on Tues­day be­cause of his be­hav­ior. Pas­sen­gers said the pi­lot ranted about a pos­si­ble bomb on­board.

Au­thor­i­ties use ex­plo­sive sniff­ing dogs dogs to search lug­gage af­ter an emer­gency land­ing at Rick Hus­band Amar­illo In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Amar­illo, Texas, af­ter a “med­i­cal sit­u­a­tion” in­volv­ing the pi­lot.

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