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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

JetBlue captain removed from cockpit by co-pilot

A JetBlue flight captain, pictured, was restrained and taken to hospital, after going berserk mid-flight and screaming at passengers to say their prayers because 'we're all going down', forcing an emergency landing

A JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas was forced to land in Texas Tuesday after the pilot
flipped out and began raving about terrorism, telling passengers “say your prayers.”

By chance, the midair breakdown took place on a flight packed with burly men traveling to the 2012 International Security Conference - several of whom tackled he pilot and sat on him until the emergency landing.

An off-duty JetBlue pilot who happened to be on the flight helped land the plane, the airline said.

“Our pilot went nuts and we had to land in Amarillo. I saw my life flash before my eyes today,” tweeted passenger Tiffany Lee.

According to witness accounts, the pilot appears to have had some sort of breakdown inside the cockpit about two hours into the 10:45 a.m. flight from John F. Kennedy Airport.

When he left to go to the bathroom, the co-pilot locked him out of the cockpit and wouldn’t let him back in.

The crazed captain battered the door, then started running up and down the aisles screaming about bombs, witnesses said.

One passenger quoted him saying, “Iraq, al-Qaida, terrorism, we’re all going down.”

Passengers said a flight attendant got on the PA and said “restrain him!”

Gabriel Schonzeit, who owns a New York photo ID company, told the Amarillo Globe-News that a former prison security guard grabbed the pilot by the neck and choked him until he collapsed.

“We all knew in the front rows if he got back in the cockpit, we were going down,” Schonzeit said.

Several passengers, including a retired NYPD sergeant, helped keep the pilot pinned until the emergency landing.

"He picked the wrong plane. Huge guys just tackled him,” one passenger told CBS News.

Schonzeit said the crazed captain was a big, powerful man who broke through the plastic zip ties they tried to use to bind his wrists.

“I couldn’t have broken those,” Schonzeit told the Amarillo paper.

Flight 191 had 135 passengers and five crew members when it took off from John F. Kennedy Airport at about 10:45 a.m., JetBlue said.

Fox News quoted a witness saying the pilot was screaming, "Say your prayers! Say your prayers!"

At the airport in Amarillo, the flight was met by police and airport security personnel and moved to a remote area of the tarmac.

JetBlue officials said the captain was taken to a hospital with an undisclosed medical condition.
Some reports said he was taken off the flight on a stretcher.

The passengers were put on a new plane to Vegas, JetBlue said.

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