Something strange was happening in American skies yesterday. Not one but two people on airplanes had to be detained mid-flight due to the risk they posed to crew and passengers.
On a JetBlue flight heading to Las Vegas from New York City Tuesday morning, Captain Clayton Osbon started exhibiting erratic behavior which prompted flight crew to lock him out of the cockpit after he left his post Osbon reportedly rushed up the aisle shouting that the flight was under threat of an al-Qaida attack or bombing; he then started to bang on the cockpit door to try to be let back in. Four passengers tackled the irate captain and restrained him by sitting on him and strapping him in with seat belt extensions. Security executive Tony Antolino, one of the passengers who tackled the captain, said the plastic handcuff restraints were not strong enough to subdue him, according to Reuters. Luckily an off-duty pilot had been traveling on the flight and took over Osbon’s duties.
JetBlue has issued a statement that the incident was a “medical situation,” according to the Associated Press. CEO Dave Barger stated, “I’ve known the captain personally for a long period of time and there’s been no indication of this at all”. The plane was landed in Amarillo, Texas where law enforcement interviewed each of the passengers. Captain Osbon was taken away in an ambulance and is in FBI agent custody. The FBI was coordinating investigations with local police, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Later on Tuesday, passenger Peggy Albedhady-Sanchez also had to be restrained on a US Air flight headed from Charlotte, NC to Fort Myers, FL. She’s been charged with four counts related to battery and interfering with flight operations. Allegedly, Sanchez grabbed, spit at and kicked a flight attendant after she was refused any more alcohol. She also purportedly broke an armrest and punched/kicked at least two other flight attendants before being restrained by a passenger who happened to be an off-duty law enforcement officer.
Violence disrupting 35,000 feet above the ground could erupt into a very frightening and chaotic situation. “It was a scary situation. It was just like a movie…It just didn’t look real” said Charlie Restivo, who was a passenger aboard the JetBlue flight. Luckily in both situations crew and passengers defused the situations quickly.
Among Homeland Security Careers are aviation security professions including U.S. Air Marshalls, Airport Security Officers, Transportation Security Officers and others who work for the TSA, FAA and Department of Homeland Security. If you would like to begin such a career, consider completing a criminal justice, homeland security or law enforcement degree.