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Entries in pilot (18)

Thursday
Jan242013

FAA Probes Pilot in Risky Plane Stunt Video

Team Stunters/WFAA(NEW YORK) -- The pilot performing a breathtaking feat in a video posted online, in which an aerobatic plane travelling at 200 miles an hour comes within feet of a man on a Texas runway, was performing the stunt on an expired waiver, ABC News has learned.

Stunt pilot Jason Newburg advertises as a daredevil for hire, specializing in death-defying aerial ballet at air shows.  He posted the clip on YouTube on Monday, in which the wing of his plane tipped dangerously close to the ground as he speeds by, nearly taking out a man on an all-terrain vehicle and the cameraman shooting the stunt.  The clip before it was taken down had nearly 150,000 views.

Newburg’s waiver to perform aerobatics expired in November, sources told ABC News.  And even if it hadn’t, pilots are required to ensure the safety of people on the ground.

“Several points along the way this guy could have make mistakes that would have killed himself, and the two people that are filming the action here,” ABC News aviation consultant Steve Ganyard said.

Newburg often performs with motorcycle showmen known as the Dallas Stunt Riderz, who choreograph maneuvers beneath his bright green plane.  But the Federal Aviation Administration is apparently not amused by his adrenalin burst of showmanship, telling ABC News it is investigating the incident.

Efforts by ABC News to reach Newburg have been unsuccessful.

Newburg’s company was involved in a helicopter crash in 2008.  The National Transportation Safety Board's report on that crash says the pilot, who was not named, was not licensed to fly a helicopter, and that he took off with -- instead of against -- the wind, causing a hard landing.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul172012

JetBlue Pilot Suffers Eye Injury from Green Laser

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A JetBlue pilot suffered an eye injury when a green laser was pointed directly into the cockpit as the plane was en route to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the incident took place Sunday when the green laser was shone through the windshield of JetBlue Flight 657 from Syracuse, hitting the first officer in the eye.  The pilot immediately notified the control tower after the incident.

“JetBlue 657, that was about 5,000 feet, right?” the control tower asked.

“Yes sir, 5,000 feet.  Two green flashes, and it caught the first officer in his eye,” the pilot said.

An FAA preliminary incident report described the pilot’s injury as minor but did not provide details.  It was unknown whether the injured pilot was in command of the aircraft at the time, but the flight landed safely at JFK 10 minutes later.

“Use caution.  I just had an unauthorized laser illumination event about seven miles ahead of you at 5,000 feet,” the control tower said.  “JetBlue 657, we are looking into the matter.”

In 2011, there were more than 3,500 documented incidents of lasers being pointed at aircrafts, up from less than 300 in 2005.  Two planes were reportedly targeted by a green laser beam in San Francisco last week.  Those pilots were not injured.

“What happens is that pinpoint spreads out as it gets up higher and farther away, and what may seem like a very faint light to you, in a cockpit, gets almost blinding,” San Francisco International Airport spokesman Mike McCarron said.

Authorities say they’re ramping up their response efforts and pursuing stricter penalties.

“Interfering with a flight crew is a federal crime.  So, the FBI has looked into these laser incidents over the last several years,” said Richard Kolko, special agent with the FBI.  “We’ve located some of them.  Several of them have been prosecuted.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Passengers Sue JetBlue for Pilot Meltdown Incident

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Passengers aboard the March JetBlue flight on which a pilot had to be locked out of the cockpit and restrained after a rant about al Qaeda and 9/11 have filed the first lawsuit related to the incident.

The lawyer representing some of the passengers aboard JetBlue Flight 191 says the airline must answer why a pilot with known mental-health issues was allowed to fly a commercial plane.

"We know an insane pilot was flying the plane," attorney Steven Epstein said.  "Now we want to know why."

Capt. Clayton Osbon, 49, was suspended from his duties and charged with interfering with flight crew instructions after the March 27 incident on the flight from New York to Las Vegas, during which he ranted at passengers after he was locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot and had to be restrained until the plane could make an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas.

Osbon will be in court Friday morning to see whether he is competent to stand trial.  He could face up to 20 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice.

Ten passengers from the flight filed the first of what is expected to be many lawsuits demanding unspecified damages from Osbon and JetBlue.

"People pay attention when money's involved," Flight 191 passenger Marshall Brooks said.  "This is going to get JetBlue's attention, force them to do something about it, and not sweep it under the rug."

Both Brooks and fellow passenger Kathy Euler thought their lives were in serious danger aboard Flight 191, which was carrying 135 passengers and six crew members.  Euler said she now has trouble trusting airline pilots when she places her life in their hands.

"I am petrified," Euler said.  "You normally walk right past the pilot, go to your seat.  I will stop and look at every pilot. ... When the pilot has to be subdued by passengers, the first thought in your mind is, 'Is this plane going to crash.'"

Brooks, Euler and the rest of the passengers say the JetBlue response to the episode -- offering them credit for the disrupted flight and nothing more -- has been insulting.

The airline said there would be "no comment on pending litigation."  Osbon's attorney did not respond to request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr022012

JetBlue Pilot Held in Jail Following First Court Appearance

Courtesy: Randall County Sheriff’s Office(AMARILLO, Texas) -- JetBlue Capt. Clayton Osbon is being held in a Texas jail without bond following his first court appearance Monday, where he smiled at his wife in the courtroom but spoke very little.

Osbon, 49, only answered "yes" or "no" to questions from Magistrate Judge Clinton E. Averitte regarding Osbon's understanding of the charges against him and his right to an attorney.

"He was advised of his rights and the government filed a motion for pre-trial detention," courtroom deputy Beverley Bratcher told ABC News. "It was a quick initial appearance."

The hearing was Osbon's first public appearance since an apparent breakdown last week on a flight from New York to Las Vegas, during which he screamed about September 11 and religion, was locked out of the cockpit, and had to be restrained by passengers until the plane could make an emergency landing in Texas.

JetBlue Flight 191 was carrying 135 passengers and six crew members. A flight attendant suffered from some bruising to the ribs during the scuffle, but no one was seriously injured.

Osbon has been federally charged with interfering with flight crew instructions. According to the Department of Justice, the charge could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

He was not asked to enter a guilty or not-guilty plea Monday.

Osbon appeared in an Amarillo, Texas, federal court for a seven-minute hearing where federal prosecutors asked that he be held without bond until a detention hearing on Thursday. The judge agreed and Osbon is being held in the Randall County Jail in Amarillo without bond.

Osbon's attorney, E. Dean Roper, did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

According to an FBI affidavit, "Osbon began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent. The [first officer] became concerned when Osbon said 'things just don't matter.'"

"Osbon also yelled jumbled comments about Jesus, Sept. 11, Iraq, Iran, and terrorists," according to the criminal complaint filed against him. "He also yelled, 'Guys, push it to full throttle.'"

Osbon was subdued by at least five passengers after his co-pilot reportedly locked him out of the cockpit when he displayed potentially dangerous behavior. The flight from Kennedy Airport in New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.

On the ground, Osbon was taken off the plane in handcuffs and a wheelchair by Amarillo police.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar302012

JetBlue Co-Pilot's Mom Proud of 'Cool and Calm' Son

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The mother of a JetBlue co-pilot who reportedly locked the plane's ranting-and-raving pilot out of the cockpit during a flight this week said she is not surprised by her son's "cool and calm" reaction to the emergency.

"He's been under pressure before with other things, and he handles it very well," Jean Dowd said of her son, Jason Dowd, in a telephone call with ABC News.

"We are very proud," she said.  "But that was the job he was paid to do.  And we are always proud of him.  We have been proud of him his whole life."

Jason Dowd's quick thinking aboard a Las Vegas-bound flight Tuesday reportedly kept the pilot, Clayton Osbon, 49, out of the plane's cockpit while the rest of the flight crew arranged an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas.

Osbon was hit Wednesday with criminal charges after the mid-air incident in which he turned off the radios and began to dim the monitor in the cockpit, then ranted about Sept. 11 and yelled ominous instructions in the jetliner's cabin.  The plane was carrying 131 passengers and six crew members.

"Osbon also yelled jumbled comments about Jesus, Sept. 11, Iraq, Iran, and terrorists," according to the criminal complaint filed against him.  "He also yelled, 'Guys, push it to full throttle.'"

Jason Dowd has not come forward publicly as the co-pilot and JetBlue declined to confirm his identity, but his mother said she recognized his voice on cockpit recordings that have been made public.

"When we heard him talking to the tower there in Texas, we could tell by his voice that he was calm," she said.  "And he landed the plane beautifully."

Jean Dowd said she spoke to her son briefly after the incident.

"We heard from him a little bit after later that night," she said.  "He didn't talk very long because he wasn't supposed to say very much.  He just said he was OK, but we could tell he was really nervous.  Of course you are after something like that."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar292012

JetBlue Captain's Father Died in 1995 Plane Crash

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The father of suspended JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon, who was restrained by passengers after going berserk on a Las Vegas-bound flight earlier this week, died in a 1995 plane crash while piloting a personal flight to Daytona Beach, Fla.

Ronald O. Osbon died after he crashed a small plane in Daytona Beach while on a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight.  His airplane was destroyed and the pilot and one passenger died from injuries after the April 14, 1995, crash, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report from the incident.

His son, Clayton Osbon, was hit Wednesday with criminal charges after the mid-air incident in which he turned off the radios and began to dim the monitor in the cockpit, then ranted about Sept. 11 and yelled ominous instructions in the jetliner's cabin, which was carrying 131 passenger and six crew members.

Wednesday's charges against Osbon, 49, were accompanied by an FBI affidavit that provides a fresh view of what went on in the cockpit of the plane before Osbon burst into the plane's cabin.

"Osbon began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent," the affidavit said.  "The [first officer] became concerned when Osbon said 'things just don't matter.'  Osbon yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet."

Osbon turned off the radios and began to dim the monitor.  The first officer became "really worried" when Osbon said, "We need to take a leap of faith," "We're not going to Vegas," and "began giving what the FO described as a sermon."

Osbon's behavior became ominous shortly after takeoff from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.  As the plane gained altitude, he mentioned something about "being evaluated" to the plane's first officer.  The officer was not sure what Osbon meant.

The concerned officer suggested to Osbon that they invite an off-duty JetBlue captain who was traveling as a passenger to the cockpit, but, instead, Osbon abruptly left the cockpit.

In the cabin, Osbon allegedly "aggressively grabbed a flight attendant's hands" and mentioned "150 souls on board" before sprinting back to the galley and eventually trying to get back into the cockpit, where the first officer had already changed the security code.

Crew members also said that Osbon had "showed up at JFK later than he should have for the flight and missed the crew briefing."

The Federal Aviation Administration called the incident a medical emergency, but law enforcement sources have called the outburst a panic attack.

An unruly Osbon was subdued by at least five passengers after his co-pilot reportedly locked him out of the cockpit when he displayed potentially dangerous behavior.  The flight from Kennedy Airport in New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.

On the ground, Osbon was taken off the plane in handcuffs and a wheelchair by Amarillo police.  He is now in FBI custody.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar282012

JetBlue Pilot Yelled About Sept. 11 and 'Push It to Full Throttle'

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The JetBlue pilot who had to be restrained by passengers was hit Wednesday with criminal charges as court documents reveal he ranted about Sept. 11 and yelled, "Guys, push it to full throttle."

Capt. Clayton Osbon, 49, was suspended from his duties Wednesday and charged with interfering with flight crew instructions. According to the Department of Justice, this charge could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The charges were accompanied by an FBI affidavit that provides a fresh view of what went on in the cockpit of the plane before Osbon burst into the plane's cabin.

It also states that at the height of the melee on board the Las Vegas bound jetliner carrying 131 passenger and six crew members, Osbon's rant made alarming allusions to terrorists.

"Osbon also yelled jumbled comments about Jesus, September 11, Iraq, Iran, and terrorists," according to the criminal complaint. "He also yelled, 'Guys, push it to full throttle.'"

Osbon's behavior became ominous shortly after takeoff from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. As the plane gained altitude he mentioned something about "being evaluated" to the plane's first officer. The officer was not sure what Osbon meant.

"Osbon began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent," the affidavit said. "The [first officer] became concerned when Osbon said 'things just don't matter.' Osbon yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet."

Osbon turned off the radios and began to dim the monitor. The first officer became "really worried" when Osbon said, "We need to take a leap of faith," "We're not going to Vegas," and "began giving what the FO described as a sermon."

Crew members also said that Osbon had "showed up at JFK later than he should have for the flight and missed the crew briefing."

The FAA called the incident a medical emergency, but law enforcement sources have called the outburst a panic attack.

"As of now, he's been taken off all active duties and responsibilities pending further investigation," JetBlue spokeswoman Tamara Young told ABC News Wednesday.

An unruly Osbon, with 131 passengers and six crew members aboard flight 191, was subdued by at least five passengers after his co-pilot reportedly locked him out of the cockpit when he displayed potentially dangerous behavior. The flight from Kennedy Airport in New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.

Osbon's last medical exam was in December 2011, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. His FAA record has no accidents or incidents and no enforcements.

Tuesday's incident is not the first time airline crews have alarmed or even killed passengers. In October 1999 on Egypt Air, flight 990, a 767 from New York to Cairo with 217 aboard, disappeared when the co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane into the Atlantic.

In 1997, a Silk Air 737 flying over Indonesia nose-dived, killing 104 passengers. Investigators say the pilot committed suicide, taking all of his passengers with him.

Earlier this month, an American Airlines flight attendant had to be restrained after threatening impending doom. That plane returned to the gate and the flight attendant was taken away, complaining of psychiatric problems.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar282012

JetBlue Pilot Had a Panic Attack, Sources Say

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The JetBlue pilot who was restrained Tuesday aboard a Las Vegas-bound flight had a panic attack, according to law enforcement sources, while the FAA called the incident a medical emergency.

Unruly captain Clayton Osbon, with 131 passengers and six crew members aboard flight 191, was subdued by at least five passengers after his co-pilot reportedly locked him out of the cockpit when he displayed potentially dangerous behavior. The flight from Kennedy Airport in New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.

The veteran captain, a commercial pilot since 1989, was not at the controls but "began acting erratically, flipping switches in the cockpit and appearing confused," according to the sources. They said his co-pilot tricked him into going to the passenger compartment to check something out, then locked the door and changed the security code behind him.

"The captain of the plane just went berserk," passenger Wayne Honlnes said. "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 in the cabin, an off-duty JetBlue pilot who was traveling on the flight managed to enter the cockpit and help 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, said he was sitting in the second row of flight 191 when he saw the captain storm out of the cockpit and rush toward an occupied bathroom. Flight attendants struggled to control him and Gonzalez, 50, said the captain began moving in the direction of the plane's emergency exit.

Gonzalez said he had gone to help the flight attendant and asked the captain what his problem was. Gonzalez said the unruly pilot replied, "You'd better start praying right now," and was shouting about al Qaeda, a bomb, and threatening that the plane is going 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 man get weak and he passed out about three minutes later. The men, who took off their belts to tie his legs, as Osbon was reportedly able to break through plastic handcuffs, sat on the pilot until landing.

Gonzalez remained on top of the captain until the plane landed, afraid of what might happen if he got free. He said it "looked like a TV SWAT show" when the plane landed, with police swarming the plane.

On the ground, Osbon was taken off the plane in handcuffs and a wheelchair by Amarillo police. He is now in FBI custody. Once safe on the ground, passengers thanked Gonzalez and asked to take photos with him, hailing him a hero.

While airline pilots submit to yearly medical tests by an FAA doctor, psychiatric screening is not a required element of testing.

"If there's no suspicion on the part of the doctor, they will sign that they're clear to fly," Kevin Hiatt, a veteran commercial captain and now safety consultant said.

Hiatt also adds that there is no specific training for what to do if your co-pilot loses it during flight either.

"The pilots are trained on what to do if a partner becomes incapacitated and can't land the aircraft," Hiatt said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb162012

Drunk Pilot? Suspicion Delays Omaha Flight

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- A Frontier Airlines flight from Omaha, Neb., to Milwaukee was delayed Thursday when the pilot was suspected of being drunk and kept from boarding the plane.

"Our police received information alleging that a Frontier crew member was impaired and, acting on that information, our police intercepted the employee before he boarded the flight," Chris Martin, director of operations for Omaha's Eppley Airfield, told ABC News.

"They spoke with him, and asked him a few questions, and determined there was reasonable suspicion that he was impaired and turned it over to Frontier Airlines staff," Martin said.

A hotel shuttle driver tipped off the police, Martin said.

The pilot, identified only as a man, was not arrested.

"We acted on it immediately, as soon as we were made aware of a potential situation," Martin said. "We never arrested him. We talked with him and turned him over to the local Frontier Airlines staff."

Flight 1894, a regional aircraft operated by Chautauqua Airlines, was scheduled to leave Omaha at 6 a.m., but did not leave until 8 a.m. because the airline needed to bring in another pilot, according to ABC News Omaha affiliate KETV.

The flight's 29 passengers did not have to wait on the tarmac, however. They were permitted back in the airport to wait.

Martin said Frontier has deemed the incident a "personnel matter."

Representatives of Frontier Airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"I know they have advised the FAA, as have we, so I'm sure they will also do an investigation," Martin said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

Alaskan Pilot Dies in Mid-Air Collision with Girlfriend's Airplane

File photo. (Arctic-Images/Getty Images)(BETHEL, Alaska) -- In a seemingly romantic plan, two pilots -- boyfriend and girlfriend -- rendezvousing in mid-air in their planes over the Alaskan tundra and flying to their destination together.

But a playful and unexplained maneuver by one of the pilots clipped a wing, sending both planes to the ground, killing one of the pilots.

Kristen Sprague, 26, and Scott Veal, 24, took off from different locations in western Alaska and headed for Bethel. They planned to rendezvous in the sky and travel together. Sprague was flying a small Cessna 207 for Alaskan freight airline Ryan Air and Veal was flying a slightly larger Cessna 208 for Grant Aviation. Both were alone in their planes.

"These two pilots ended up meeting on a discrete frequency and were talking on the way back," said Clint Johnson, the senior air safety investigator on this case for the National Transportation Safety Board. "They met up and flew in close proximity to each other."

Johnson said this it is not recommended for airplanes to be so close to each other.

"Visibility was not a factor. Weather was not a factor. They saw each other," Johnson said. "The fact of the matter is they were both willing participants in this maneuver that, unfortunately, had disastrous results."

In speaking with Sprague extensively over the weekend before she returned home to Idaho, Johnson said that she recalls saying, "Scott, I can't see you" and Veal saying to her, "Whatever you do, don't pull up."

"The next thing she knew, his airplane struck her right wing," Johnson said. "After the collision, his airplane passed underneath her from the right to the left and basically nosedived into the tundra."

Veal was killed when the plane burst into flames, and the aircraft was almost entirely destroyed upon impact in the tundra.

When Johnson asked Sprague what she thought Veal may have been trying to accomplish in the maneuver, she said she did not know. "Unfortunately, we will never know what he was doing."

With minimal control over her damaged plane, Sprague was able to safely land in an isolated area of tundra. It took four hours for rescue helicopters to be able to pick her up. Johnson said that Sprague was "very upset," but did not suffer any physical injuries.

Veal's family and friends are reeling from the loss of a man they say had always dreamed of being a pilot.

Noelle Mayes and her husband Rex own the Williams Soaring Center, a flight school in Williams, Calif., where Veal was a member. The Mayes family is close friends of the Veal family and would only say that Veal was a "good pilot, great guy."

Veal's father sent a message to the Mayes to let them know about Scott's death and receiving the "toughest call" about his son's death.

"Scott loved to fly and he has been living his and my dream of flying in the Alaska bush the last few years," his father wrote. "I had talked with him just yesterday about what he wanted to fly next."

Flying was a passion that ran in the Veal family. Both Veal's father and grandfather worked as flight instructors.

Veal's father also wrote: "He was a tough nut to raise sometimes, but he was my flying buddy and I will miss not getting to fly summers in Alaska together like we had planned."

Ryan Air and Grant Aviation did not respond to requests for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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