JetBlue pilot who had midair meltdown to plead insanity-filing

April 18 Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:06pm EDT

April 18 (Reuters) - A JetBlue pilot whose midair meltdown prompted a cross-country flight to make an emergency landing in west Texas last month will plead he was insane at the time of the incident, his lawyer said in a federal court filing on Wednesday.

Attorney Dean Roper filed the notice in U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas, saying pilot Clayton Osbon would use an insanity defense.

Osbon, 49, was charged earlier this month with interfering in the operations of a flight crew after he allegedly screamed and pounded on the cockpit door, forcing a March 27 flight from New York to Las Vegas to land in Amarillo.

Osbon was undergoing court-ordered psychiatric examination to determine if he could stand trial. The outcome of those examinations has not been disclosed.

A federal indictment described a harrowing flight during which Osbon had to be subdued and forcibly restrained from re-entering the cockpit.

The FBI said Osbon began saying, "Things just don't matter" while he was at the controls of the Airbus A320 about halfway into the five-hour flight, and that he told the flight's first officer, "We're not going to Vegas."

After the pilot suddenly left the cockpit and started running up and down the aisle, banging on a restroom door, and attempted to force his way back into the locked cockpit, several passengers restrained him until the plane landed.

The FBI said that while he was being restrained, Osbon yelled, "Pray now for Jesus Christ," started yelling about Iraq, Iran and terrorists, and shouted at one point toward the cockpit, "Guys, push it to full throttle!"

Neither Osbon's lawyer nor prosecutors could immediately be reached for comment on the insanity defense.

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Comments (11)
freecheese wrote:
So much for his flying days.

Apr 18, 2012 5:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
EagleSupreme1 wrote:
Earlier reports were that the pilot was on psychotropic medicine, ie anti-depressants! His behavior sounds EXACTLY like that! Where’s the mention of this?!

Apr 18, 2012 7:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan wrote:
Didn’t he have what decades ago used to be called a “Nervous Breakdown”. At least he didn’t shoot anyone like the soldier in Afghanistan. But I swear – in the 50′s and even early 60s nervous breakdowns were being dumbed-down. People could be terribly dim and conventional and any breach from dubious normalcy could get eyebrows knitted. Woodstock kicked a lot of that right between the supports of their mental walkers. Actually I wish I could have afforded to go to that. But I saw the movie and skinny dipped at other times. The guy may have been having an epiphany of sorts. You could call it getting in touch with the unconscious subtext of his life. It is garbled because it all came up too quickly. He was vomiting himself. The man was always under pressure not to let anything out that was not part of his job I suspect?

Doesn’t it also suggest that air marshals aren’t riding in planes anymore? I wonder how long that has been going on? Perhaps they should still do that: not so much for protection against terrorists, as for unforeseen events like this? Passenger jets are hermetically sealed caskets in the sky.

Life never likes to follow rules too closely. It’s very dangerous. The rules are never good enough or complete enough. When the seas get rough, even life rafts of conventional behavior can go under too.

Apr 18, 2012 11:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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