A JetBlue Airways Corp. flight was diverted Tuesday after the captain was locked out of the cockpit for “erratic behavior,” then ran up and down the aisle and banged on the cockpit door before being subdued by passengers, according to the Federal Aviation Administration and accounts from passengers.
The FAA said in a statement that the co-pilot locked the captain out of the cockpit after becoming concerned with his behavior. A person familiar with the matter said the captain was attempting to flip switches in the cockpit that shouldn’t have been flipped.
Locked out of the cockpit, he became enraged, said Mr. Antolino and another passenger, Grant Heppes, a 22-year-old marketing director from New York who was sitting near the rear of the cabin. Mr. Heppes said he watched the captain run up and down the aisle before hearing banging on the cockpit door, “and the co-pilot came over the loudspeaker saying, ‘Do not let him in. Restrain him.’ ”
Mr. Antolino said he and three other male passengers then restrained the captain, whom he described as “a big, strong guy.” who “put up a good struggle.” During the tussle, the captain shouted that Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan “are going to take us down,” Mr. Antolino said. “He had a delusion that something was going to happen. And then he suggested everybody say the Lord’s Prayer. Then that was it; we just tackled him.”
There’s plenty of cell phone video out there where you can hear him ranting and raving.
You know what? I’m encouraged by this. This is about the worst situation we can imagine: a pilot losing it. And … once again … it was the ordinary Americans — the-copilot and the passengers — who dealt with it.
For all our security theater, all our pat-downs of wheelchair-bound three year olds, all TSA’s boasting about catching explosives on their second attempt, we are our own last best line of defense. We see this over and over again: the heroic passengers of United 93; the passengers who caught and subdued the shoe bomber; the passengers who stopped and subdued the undie bomber; and now the passengers on Jet Blue.
You can keep your multi-billion dollar security industry. I’ll put my faith in my fellow Americans.