The FAA, meanwhile, called the incident a “medical emergency.”
Flight 191′s Captain Clayton Osbon had to be subdued by at least five passengers after his co-pilot locked him out of the cockpit when he displayed potentially dangerous behavior. The flight from JFK Airport in New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.
The veteran captain, who has been a commercial pilot since 1989, wasn’t actually at the controls but “began acting erratically, flipping switches in the cockpit and appearing confused,” according to various sources. They said the co-pilot coerced him into going to the passenger compartment to check a few things out, then locked the door and changed the security code behind him.
“The captain of the plane just went berserk,” said passenger Wayne Honlnes. “He came out of the other end of the plane … came running back to the cockpit and he was shouting out these numbers … 500 something. He started banging on the cockpit door.”
While Osbon was melting down out in the cabin, an off-duty JetBlue pilot who was on-board the flight entered the cockpit and helped land the plane.
“Another captain, traveling off duty, entered the flight deck prior to landing at Amarillo, and took over the duties of the ill crewmember once on the ground,” JetBlue said in a statement. “The aircraft arrived Amarillo at 10:11 am CT, and the crewmember was removed from the aircraft and taken to a local medical facility.”
Passenger David Gonzalez, a former corrections officer from New York City, had been sitting in the second row of flight 191 when he saw the captain storm out of the cockpit and head for an occupied bathroom. Flight attendants had difficulty controlling him and Gonzalez, 50, said the captain began heading for the plane’s emergency exit.
Gonzalez asked the captain what his problem was. He said the flustered pilot replied, “You’d better start praying right now,” and was shouting about Al Qaeda, a bomb, and threatening that the plane was going to go down.
“I was actually the one that took him down. I noticed he was very erratic,” Gonzalez said. “He was pinned against the door. I was afraid he was going to knock down the door. I was able to put a choke hold on him. I was able to get him weak from cutting his wind pipe.
“When he buckled, I realized I had him where I need him. So I put a little more pressure, and that’s when he almost passed out. So I threw him to the floor. That’s when the team came in and started helping me … I just didn’t want him opening up that door. I knew if he got in there, we wouldn’t be sitting here now.”
Gonzalez felt the pilot pass out about three minutes later. The men then removed their belts to tie his legs, as Osbon was able to break out of the plastic handcuffs. They then say on him until landing.
“If he got a second wind, I’d have to apply more pressure and I didn’t want to hurt him,” Gonzalez said. “I just wanted to get him calm, get the plane down and get him some medical assistance.”
Gonzalez, a married father of five, said he used to work for the New York City Department of Correction and now works for a security firm. He was on his way to Las Vegas for an annual security show.
Gonzalez stayed atop the captain until the plane landed.
He said it “looked like a TV SWAT show” when the plane finally landed in Texas, with police swarming the plane.
Police removed Osbon from the plane in handcuffs and a wheelchair. He’s currently in FBI custody.
Once they were on the ground, passengers reportedly thanked Gonzalez and asked to take photos with him, hailing him a hero.
More in the video below.
- JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon restrained by PASSENGERS after going berserk mid-flight (dailymail.co.uk)
- “We’re all going down!”: Video shows moment pilot goes berserk on flight and starts yelling about a bomb (mirror.co.uk)
- Pilot Who Lost It On Flight 191 Was One Of JetBlue’s Oldest [JetBlue Flight 191] (jalopnik.com)