Quick-Thinking Co-Pilot Locks Him Out Of Cockpit, 6-8 Passengers Subdue

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a frightening experience for dozens of passengers aboard a JetBlue flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Las Vegas on Tuesday.

JetBlue said in a statement that after Flight 191 departed at 7:28 a.m. ET, the pilot in command of the plane diverted to Amarillo, Texas at around 11 a.m. due to “a medical situation involving the captain.”

The captain, identified as 49-year-old veteran pilot Clayton Osbon of Georgia, was arrested and taken off the plane, handcuffed to a wheelchair and rolled to an ambulance for a medical evaluation.

Passengers on board the flight said he was pounding on the cockpit door and yelling and screaming, CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reports. They also said he was foaming at the mouth and mentioned the word “bomb” in addition to “al Qaeda” and “Afghanistan.”

“He was yelling and screaming, seemed like he was having a panic attack,” passenger Grant Heppes said.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera Speaks With Passengers

“He just totally lost it — completely irrational,” Manhattan businessman Peter Karoczkai told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “He started yelling that we should all be saying our prayers.”

CBS News learned Osbon was observed by the co-pilot as behaving erratically in the cockpit, and was urged to head to the bathroom. He was then locked out. The captain’s actions apparently were “completely out of character” for the “well-respected, well-liked” Osbon.

“And he started hammering the door with his fists, pounding on the door,” said passenger Josh Redick.

Redick, a father of two from Huntington, Long Island, was among six to eight passengers who used seat belts and their own weight to hold the captain down.

“We had his hands tied behind his back, we like used belts and seat belt extenders and so forth to tie his hands together and then we tied his legs up,” Karoczkai said.

A federal government official told CBS the captain became incoherent, which caused the co-pilot to become concerned. According to the official, the co-pilot convinced the captain to leave the cockpit and then locked him out. When the captain started pounding on the cockpit door, he was subdued by the men.

Meanwhile, another JetBlue pilot, who was on board as a traveler, was ushered into the cockpit to assist in landing the plane, CBS 2’s Chris Wragge reported.

The plane landed safely in Amarillo at 11:11 a.m. and the ill crew member was taken from the aircraft, the airline said.

Arrested and safely off the plane, a new crew was brought in to continue the flight to Vegas. Passengers, including those who tackled the captain, were relieved it’s all over.

“We New Yorkers have been through so much more worse than this, that we all remained incredibly calm, with the exception of a few people who started crying,” passenger Laurie Dhue said.

“Our first reaction was to get him to the floor, strap him in, tie him up, and let’s land this plane,” added passenger David Gonzalez.

Video purportedly of the aftermath of the incident surfaced on YouTube. The video shows several people standing near the front of the plane.

Another video uploaded by the same user, which contains some strong language, shows personnel boarding the plane and asking passengers to remain in their seats.

Images have surfaced online of a man wearing a blue shirt strapped to a chair being carried down the steps of the plane.

While the entire situation is believed to have been medical in nature, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and local law enforcement are coordinating the investigation.

Is enough being done to care for the health of pilots? What do you make of this situation? Sound off in our comments section below. 

Comments (69)
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  14. cactusflyer says:

    Thank god this captain wasn’t an FFDO and allowed to carry a firearm. This could have ended up so much worse than just a diverted flight…

    1. Doc Scurlock says:

      Thank god you found away to work gun control into the issue. Can’t figure out why people like you only want the government and criminals to have guns.

    2. Lobo says:

      Thank God the man wasn’t a rhinoceros, he could’ve caused some serious damage.

      1. MyNameIsEarl says:

        It’s a good thing there wasn’t a mountain lion on board, because it’s also likely that a bear would not be on board to save the passengers from the cougar.

  15. tabata says:

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  16. letmepicyou says:

    Folks, I hate to interject a dark thought, but this looks to me like what might happen if an MK Ultra subject isn’t 100% responsive to the conditioning. Like maybe his handlers maybe had some “question about the subject’s mental stability” and perhaps “should only be used in missions wherein the object is of less than absolute importance”.

    1. charles says:

      It’s good that men react, but everyone needs to take a breather here. I think they over-reacted by hog tying him. It’s obvious the guy was having a panic attack. All you have to do is mention certain magic words like “al queda” and everyone will hog tie you. What conditioning! Pavlov and Skinner would be proud.

  17. sick of it all says:

    The passangers who detained this loon ,are true hero’s and should be awarded. Last month a flight attendant went crazy,now a pilot,whats up with that?

  18. JosyWales says:

    When anyone with a uniform tells you to not record, or put away the camera, that means, “record everything” and “take as many pictures as possible”. And for chrise sake, if you are going to take video, REST THE CAMERA/PHONE on a solid surface and don’t move it around! That’s why pros use a ‘TRIPOD’.

    1. Rodney McSlurp says:

      Rule of life: Whenever there is a crisis, some Nazi with a superiority complex and no authority starts ordering people around.

  19. cRAIG says:

    Waiting for a bomb to go off for 10 years. Probably many more flightcrews reaching breaking point. Awful job.

  20. Clarissa Nonrevo says:

    You decide: Are the flight numbers “191” in the airline industry jinxed?? (1) American Airlines Flt 191=crashed, (2) Delta Airlines Flt 191=crashed, (3) Comair Flight Flt 5191=Crashed (4) JetBlue Flt 191=Pilot flips out, could have crashed (4) Southwest Airlines Flt 1919=Skidded off runway/semi-crashed (5) British Airways Flt 911=Crashed (6) American Airlines Flt 119=Hijacked and last but definitely not least: (7) The 9/11 terrorist attacks=4 major crashes and thousands dead!! What do you think??

    1. MyNameIsEarl says:

      I can sell you 191 tinfoil ballcaps and give a price break!

  21. Close call — for a moment there I thought this was flight 911, not 191…

  22. alwayswise says:

    My thoughts as I read this article go to Flight 97 and the brave passengers who gave their lives to stop that murderous attack. We have seen several incidences over the last several months of passengers bravely taking charge of frightening situations aboard aircraft. The passengers on Flight 97 not only showed us that it could be done, but they showed us that as free citizens it is our right and duty to get involved. Nice job, Jet Blue passengers. You did the right thing.

  23. Bernhard says:

    Well, there always two sides to everything. I heard recently that a man had his leg amputated because he feared work. Looking at the airline business, aviation, and the economy in particular then one must wonder if people are able to remain sane with the current condition at hand. This individual in question might have pulled off the stunt to force early retirement. And let’s face it folks, times are tough, and if certain politicians do not realize it but aviation or the airline business contributes to up to 10% to world’s economy. Having that said, pilots are underpaid, and most often work for a substandard wage, have to support a family, etc…the list goes on. Some folks can keep it together, and some folks just lose it. Admittedly, the captain should have lost it on the ground to avoid the level of heightened panic of passengers, and luckily a disaster was averted. Nevertheless, our society should wake up and realize that for the level of responsibility a captain has, the wage/salary should be accordingly.

    1. Sully Blanchard says:

      I once heard about a guy who had his brain removed so that he could leave message board posts about mythical events.

  24. Larry says:

    Unstable pilots and TSA workers, yet another violation of our rights. The gov’t constantly violates our rights.
    They violate the 1st Amendment by caging protesters and banning books like “America Deceived II”.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by allowing TSA to grope you.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars.
    Impeach Obama, support Ron Paul.
    Last link of “America Deceived II” before it is completely banned:

    1. sick of it all says:

      Paranoia strikes deep, take your med Larry

      1. Larry says:

        I’m foaming at the butt.

  25. steve says:

    non union pilot who could not have passed the vetting of the major airlines. Pay peanuts, you get monkeys. When will the passengers realize.

    1. LowCeiling says:

      Yea right (eyes rolling). Don’t try to tell me the major airlines pay their union guys more money because they’re better. They’re paid more because the union has them by the balls – and will conduct a slowdown or strike. It’s a cush job – get one if you can.

      1. OccupyBigLabor says:

        It’s a closed shop at just about every airline. Pilots and all other crew members are forced to pay dues, though they know their unions are archaic and corrupt. Wish we could end ours.

  26. Dixie says:

    I think this is no coincidence re the flight attendant – think about it. He is now grounded, won’t have to go to work, but will most certainly retain all his benefits and possibly his pay.
    Now that he has publicly “declared” himself as “mentally ill” he gets early retirement-plus and never has to work again and possibly also gets an insurance payout.
    Obviously we will never really know, but coming as hard on the heels of the last episode makes me suspicious.

  27. SUE-Z says:

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  28. Aloha says:

    One in five people in the US has mental issues, that’s about one person in every row on each aircraft that takes off daily from US airports …scary huh?

    1. questor3000 says:

      People with mental illness are no less likely to commit acts of violence as the common population. As a matter of fact, most mentally ill people have never hurt a fy. Where violence does come to play is in cases of MICA, mental illness and chemical addiction. Thispilot will most likely never work again in his life and be forced to take a life long regime of psychotripic medications and possible repeated psychiatric hospitalizations. I feel sorry fir his family and him, since he was a pilot and loved his job. We are living in scary and stressful times and as a 911 first responder can understand where he is comming from. I myself suffer from PTSD and Depression. And yes, one out of every five people has some form of a mental illness. The only thing I am glad about is, he will finally recieve the treatment he needs and be grounded for life.

  29. Gamgra says:

    People are starting to snap under pressure. What causes the pressure, well.. use your imagination on that one.

  30. Dave says:

    What if the captain had been an FFDO?

  31. Concerned Mom of 5 says:

    I love flying on discount airlines with discount pilots…. Wheeeeeeee……

    1. GorillaRapper39 says:

      Since the news story did not give the name or background of the pilot, I’d bet my car that it’s a person of “middle eastern” descent.

      1. Rocco says:

        You are a moron!

        1. JosyWales says:

          And you are projecting. The media has a history of NEVER reporting terrorists as “terrorists”, but if the person is white or religious, that becomes the nut of the story.

  32. tj says:

    I think it was handled appropriately. Thank goodness a police officer and pilot were amongst the passengers to keep things calmer and in control.

    1. Scott says:

      Why would you give an off duty police officer credit? Did he wave a magic wand and make everything calmer. Give me a break.

      1. Jon Doh says:

        Yeah, JERK, he DID make everything better. That just burns the living hell out of you doesn’t it cop hater?

      2. Scott hates police says:

        Pretty much yes.He was in total control give credit where credit is due.

      3. Scott is a JackA#S says:

        Scott, perhaps he did not make everything calmer, but he made everything safer, which he is trained to do. Umm, and Scott, take some reading comprehension lessons. He is a retired cop, not an off duty cop. In fact, being retired, he is not a cop at all, just a better person than you are, I’m sure.

      4. webbery1 says:

        I think tj meant that someone in authority who did not panic was a whole lot better than a bunch of folks running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

  33. susan says:

    if the captain was incoherent, that sounds like what happens when you have a stroke..the co pilot could have landed the plane, but if there was another crew member on board, it is helpful because of all the checklist that are done..the f/a on american was not incoherent, she was screaming and taling abou 9/11 and crashing the plane on the pa system…

  34. susan says:

    the faa requires 2 to be in the cockpit,pilot and co pilot..the co pilot should have been able to land the plane safely by himself, but if there was a pilot on board who volunteered,why not. pilots have more flight hours accrued than co pilots, although the training doesnt vary much..co pilots are “promoted” to the pilots seat when hours are accumulated and vacancies occur..usually its a medical condition like a heart attack that requires the plane to land..being incoherent is often the sign of a stroke..the flight attendant on aa had a different sort of problem and she was not incoherent..she was ranting and screaming about 9/11 and crashing the plane…

  35. JP says:

    It’s bad enough that we live in fear of a plane coming down due to terrorism, we also have to be afraid of our flight attendants and pilots?

  36. Roy Vegas says:

    The reports are too conflicting thus far. Pilot and co-pilot are being used interchangeably. i like JetBlue; this could have happened on any airline, I suppose. The folks on that plane will be particularly happy when they finally arrive here in Las Vegas. http://royvegas.blogspot.com

  37. larry says:

    if the off duty pilot did not exist could the other flight “assistant” have landed it? if so why didnt he?

    1. Joe B. says:

      The co-pilot is totally qualified to land the plane. No biggie. Getting the crazy pilot out of the cockpit was a good move. After that landing safely was not an issue.

  38. SoSo says:

    “New York-area airports may charge disruptive fliers for delays.”

    Are these actions going to apply to the airline personal as well. Hmm, maybe they need to re-think this.

  39. Moshe says:

    First that flight attendant freaked out, now a pilot. What the heck is going on?

    1. Joe Doakes says:

      People are very stressed out. We are dealing with a little too much “change” and not enough “hope.”

    2. Michael Mohammad says:

      Its the end of the world as we know it. Its the end of the world as we know it. SING IT WITH ME! Its the end of the world as we know it. yeah yeah yeah

  40. cheri says:

    And this is after a survey suggesting that consumers should pay a fine if they cause delays. NOT!!!

    1. cheriDuh says:

      What a silly post. Sit in the corner and let the adults discuss….

      1. Marc C says:

        The poster has a legitimate point that delays aren’t only cause by consumers. Are we compensated for delays that are not consumer originated? You an airline shill?

        1. cheriDuhAirlineShill says:

          Yeah cheri, thats right. How silly. I mean,could you imagine the airlines ever causing a delay, my goodness , NEVER!

          Only consumers could cause a delay, and then be made to pay for it.

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