JetBlue captain charged with 'interfering with plane's crew'
The JetBlue captain who forced an NYC-to-Vegas flight to divert to Texas after his midair meltdown Tuesday has been taken off active duty and charged with interfering with the plane's crew, an airline spokeswoman and published reports said.
Capt. Clayton Frederick Osbon is grounded by the airline, pending the outcome of an investigation of the incident on Flight 191, according to Alison Steinberg. He was charged with the crime in U.S. District in Texax.
The FAA and the FBI are investigating the event, during which Osbon left the cockpit of the plane, which departed from Kennedy Airport, ranting about al-Qaida and a possible bomb onboard the plane.
Newly unsealed court documents show that Osbon told his co-pilots "things don't matter" during the flight, and said "we're not going ot Vegas" then started to give a sermon, according to the AP.
Osbon was restrained by passengers and an ex-NYPD sergeant, reports said, and an off-duty captain who happened to be onboard helped after Osbon was subdued. He has reportedly been a pilot for the airline since 2000.Neighbors of Osbon, who has an apartment in Queens, said described him as a "nice guy" and said they were saddened and sickened over his alleged "erratic behavior" on the JetBlue plane, which made an emergency landing in Amarillo.
"I'm sick about it," said neighbor Wanda Serra.
Fred Capace, 37, lives next door to Osbon's apartment and said he was "shocked" at the news.
"I just hope he's OK," Capace said.
Serra and Capace each said that Osbon never seemed odd.
"He's a gentleman," Serra said. "He wouldn't be here [in her building]if he wasn't."
"He's just a stand-up regular guy," Capace said.
Serra also said Osbon called her "bonbon," an affectionate term for grandmother.
Capace said Osbon was into football and 1970s rock music and that he loved being a pilot.
No injuries were reported during Osbon's outburst, but many of the 135 passengers onboard the Airbus A320 were stunned by the tirade.
The reason for Osbon's freakout was a "medical situation," JetBlue Airways said in a statement. The airline declined to elaborate on the situation.
The captain had to be wrestled to the ground after he pounded on the cockpit door, demanding to be let back in, passengers said.
Seated in the front row, Jason Levin, of Farmingville, said the captain was "banging on the door like a bounty hunter, trying to knock down the door."
A former correction officer from New York City grabbed the captain in a headlock, and Levin said three other male passengers rushed in to help.
Levin, who works in the security trade, said he kept a knee in the captain's back for about 20 minutes as the plane made its emergency descent.
"I think he had a mental breakdown," Levin, 39, said. "Something in his brain wasn't right. It wasn't a terrorist act. I don't think he had bad intentions.