NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Today, the National Transportation Safety Board will download the tapes from the flight data recorders aboard the JetBlue flight where its captain had an apparent mid-air meltdown.
JetBlue, meanwhile, says the crew of New York to Las Vegas Flight 191 will remain quiet about the incident.
“We understand and appreciate everyone’s desire to hear directly from the crew regarding their experience, but the crew has decided to decline all media opportunities in order to spend time with their families,” JetBlue Airways Corp. said in a statement Friday.
Federal officials charged pilot Clayton Osbon with interfering with a flight crew on Wednesday.
The FBI said Osbon began frightening his first officer, co-pilot Jason Dowd, about three hours into Tuesday morning’s flight, saying Osbon “began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent.”
Osbon talked about sins in Las Vegas, saying at one point “We’re not going to Vegas.” Then Osbon began giving what the first officer described as a sermon.
After the co-pilot saw the pilot unnecessarily “fiddling” with the flight controls, and complaining to air traffic control about too much chatter, Dowd coaxed Osbon out of the cockpit, suggesting he go splash water in his face.
Once out of the cockpit, the Dowd called for an off-duty pilot, who flying as a passenger, to come forward. They changed the combination on the cabin door lock.
After the pilot started beating on the cockpit door, he went up the aisle screaming.
“He’s getting more and more violent and now he’s starting to say ‘Pray to Jesus’ and he started yelling to the flight deck ‘Throttle to idle, throttle to idle, bring this plane down,’” passenger Marc Sellouk said, describing what happened inside the plane.
“He started ranting about Iraq, Iran — they’re going to take us down,” passenger Tony Antolino said. “Say the Lord’s Prayer, and at that point, we literally just tackled him to the ground and restrained him.”
Passengers wrestled Osbon to the ground and Dowd diverted the flight from New York to Amarillo, Texas. No one onboard was seriously injured.
Dowd’s quick thinking and calm management of the emergency landing brought comparisons to “Miracle on the Hudson” Capt. Chesley Sullenberger.
Dowd’s family members, including his brother-in-law in Ohio, said they’re proud of his heroic acts. His father-in-law, William Kosta, said Dowd called home shortly after the incident.
“Very short conversation that he was just okay and that there had been a problem on the plane,” Kosta said.
Dowd is still being interviewed by federal investigators.
JetBlue is encouraging the public to send messages to the crew of Flight 191 through its blog at http://blog.jetblue.com.
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