Posted By Craig Huber, Web Managing Editor - email
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -
It was a terrifying flight for passengers on board a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas Tuesday. The pilot had a meltdown mid-flight.
It all happened in front of passengers, who had to step in and subdue the pilot.
It was about halfway into the flight when the pilot left the cockpit. He was ranting and raving about Iran and Israel and trying desperately to get back to the plane's controls.
That's when passengers jumped in for a wild 15 minutes at 30,000 feet.
Just after 4 p.m., JetBlue flight 191 landed safely in Las Vegas, seven hours late.
"The captain of the plane was running down the aisle, screaming," recalled passenger Laurie Dhue. "It sounded like, ‘There's a bomb on the plane! Bomb! Bomb!'"
"When he got to the front of the plane he began banging on the cockpit door, saying, ‘Let me in! Let me in! You can see it's me through the camera; you know it's me! Let me in! Let me in!' He was trying to punch in the secret code to get in the cockpit," said Dhue.
The flight crew attempted to pull him away. The captain, described as 6'4" and 250 pounds, threw a flight attendant down.
"When the guy (pilot) started saying, 'Say your prayers' and 'Oh father,' the cop that was on board said, ‘Let's get this guy on the ground,'" said another passenger, Josh Redick.
The "cop" was actually 23-year retired NYPD veteran Paul Babakitis. He joined four other passengers in taking the captain down.
"(He) had something in his mind and intent to do it," Babakitis said. "He really wanted to do it. If we didn't have proper coordination in this, other people could have been injured. We could have been injured and it was just something reminiscent of that something that happened (on) 9/11."
There was another JetBlue pilot on the plane traveling as a passenger. He joined the co-pilot in the cockpit and landed in the plane in Amarillo 20 minutes later.
Passengers are being applauded for their efforts, but most who were on the flight say a great deal of credit should go to the co-pilot. That co-pilot recognized a problem quickly and got the pilot out of the cockpit and refused to let him back in.
Fox News identified the pilot as Clayton Osbon.
The pilot was taken away by the FBI for questioning and evaluation. JetBlue brought in a new plane and flight crew from Long Beach before the flight continued to Las Vegas.
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