Queens Landlady Of JetBlue Pilot Shocked Over Apparent Meltdown, Calls Him ‘A Great Guy’

Writer Who Has Interviewed Pilot Says 'It's More Than Somebody Going Crazy'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Queens landlady of the JetBlue pilot, who was tackled by passengers after having an apparent meltdown during a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Las Vegas, said Wednesday she’s sick about what happened and called him “a gentleman.”

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports 

Wanda Serra, 83, said she’s rented the top floor of a home on 150th Avenue in South Ozone Park near JFK to pilot Clayton Osbon for nearly a decade. Osbon lives in Richmond Hill, Ga., but because he flies out of JFK so often, he stays at the Queens apartment during layovers between flights and shares it with four other pilots.

“I can’t understand this,” Serra told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane. “He wouldn’t live here if he did anything like this. He’s a gentleman.”

Serra said Osbon is like a son to her.

“I love him, he’s a great guy,” she said. “He never hurt nobody, never. It’s unbelievable how something like this could happen.”

Osbon was often seen tossing around the football and watching Giants games, which is why neighbors in Queens said they can’t recall any indication that such an apparent breakdown was possible.

“We never saw any signs like this,” neighbor Thomas Consiglio told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown. “He never seemed stressed, he never seemed depressed, upset, always just a happy-go-lucky guy. Always in a good mood.”

Writer Christine Lucas, who interviewed the pilot for her article “Guys In The Skies,” for the magazine, “Richmond Hill Reflections,” was floored when she found out about the incident and thinks it had to be a medical issue.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera Hears From A Writer Who Previously Interviewed The Pilot

“Quite frankly, it’s more than somebody going crazy or flipping out or ranting.  You know, something happened to this person to cause him to act this way,” Lucas told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.

Lucas said that Osbon was “passionate about his job and he was happy to be working for JetBlue — at least in as much as he expressed to me.”

Alarmed passengers say the veteran captain lost it mid-flight Tuesday morning, walked out of the cockpit and began shouting about Afghanistan, terrorism and bombs.

“He started ranting about Iraq, Iran, they’re going to take us down, say the Lord’s prayer,” described passenger Tony Antolino. “At that point, we literally just tackled him to the ground and restrained him.”

Antolino was one of four passengers who helped restrain Osbon, pinning him to the floor as the plane’s co-pilot diverted the flight to Amarillo, Texas with the help of another off-duty pilot who was aboard the flight.

At their family home in Richmond Hill, just outside of Savannah, Ga., Osbon’s wife has asked people to reserve judgment until all the facts come out.

“I’m glad the passengers are safe. I have no idea what happened, but I know JetBlue is handling the situation,” Osbon’s wife told CBS affiliate WTOC in Savannah.

Osbon’s apparent mid-air meltdown has prompted many to ask how thorough medical exams are for pilots.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports

“It’s all very regulated and all spelled out in the federal code regulations,” Ben Struck, chief flight instructor at Farmingdale State College told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall. “Eyes, what criteria you have to meet and your hearing.”

Struck said as a commercial pilot, medical screenings are done once a year if you are under the age of 40 and twice a year if you are over the age of 40. He said a mental health evaluation is also part of the screening.

“If he had any history of psychosis or bi-polar disorder or substance abuse, all those things could be disqualifying factors,”  Struck said.

JetBlue said Wednesday that Osbon was being suspended pending further investigation. In a statement Tuesday, JetBlue described the incident as “a medical situation involving the captain.”

Please share your thoughts below…

  • Trish

    Maybe he has a brain tumor that could cause a change in behavior. Stress and lack of sleep and depression could also cause a change in behavior. Please evaluate this man, because this behavior is out of the ordinary for him. Don’t be quick to judge him, this could be any of us in this economic crisis.

  • Erik

    Too much speculation not enough facts. Not saying it’s ok to lose your mind in mid air with anyones life in your hands, but now that it’s over why don’t we actually find out what happened before we throw this guy in jail and write him off as a mental patient? And not for nothing… but if I had to worry about someone taking my work space over with a bomb or a gun everyday of my life the way pilots do, I’d probably lose my cool at some point too. So again… why just write him off as a nut job?

    Oh wait… this is the US government dealing with this… now I get it. Don’t worry folks with them in charge I’m sure you will get to watch as they throw him under the bus… or plane. You know they need someone to blame (and there is no way it’s them… ever).

  • Richard

    How “thorough are medical exams” for anybody? How thorough is “science”? About as “thorough” as religion. One recent pope died of a heart attack a month after given a clean bill of health. Sex offenders are “cured” who promptly molest again. What medical exam will catch a meltdown like that, not to mention precipitant factors: a girlfriend hanging up the phone can cause a meltdown depending on a person’s profile; a divorce; anything.

  • Dawn

    In my last comment I most definitely didn’t mean people that came to the US for economic gain. I was referring to the worldwide terror network leader’s name for its own spooks.

  • Dawn

    My reference to illegals in the last comment is not people that cross our borders illegally for economic gain. I most definitely am referring to the name the leader of the worldwide terror network assigns their spooks!

  • Dawn

    The bringing of criminal charges this quick is sloppy detective work! Shame on federal authorities for this one! Results from exposure to novachoks don’t come back from a lab that quickly. People don’t just snap, but people in posts protecting critical infrastructure are exposed to some very awful things that give the appearance of snapping, albeit those things wear-off after a good sleep. Consuming probiotics speed-up the removal of the toxins. Here on LI we have illegals embedded in shrink posts & I can take a pretty good guess this is throughout the US. If it’s like on LI the diagnosis is going to be: his being a pilot always was a delusion, he’ll be forced into chemical dependency & brainwashed to believe he never was a pilot. If the shrinks in Amarillo do as is done on LI I suggest Osbon lift the confidentiality on his records to expose shrinks for their true character: insurance frauds!

  • travelperson1

    I know everyone is under tremendous stress… and it sounds too much like the poor flight attendant that lost it. I want to know is something being done to us to make us crack like this?? hmmm.

  • Flying

    Sounds like the plane wasn’t the only thing that was flying up there.

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