A pilot with JetBlue since 2000, Osbon acted oddly and became increasingly erratic on the flight, worrying his fellow crew members so much that they locked him out of cockpit after he abruptly left for the cabin, according to a federal affidavit. He then started yelling about Jesus, al-Qaida and a possible bomb on board, forcing passengers to tackle him and tie him up with seat belt extenders for about 20 minutes until the planed landed.
“The (first officer) became really worried when Osbon said ‘we need to take a leap of faith,'” according to the sworn affidavit given by an FBI agent John Whitworth. “Osbon started trying to correlate completely unrelated numbers like different radio frequencies, and he talked about sins in Las Vegas.”
Investigators said they were told that Osbon scolded air traffic controllers to quiet down, then turned off the radios altogether, and dimmed the monitors in the cockpit. He allegedly said aloud that “things just don’t matter” and encouraged his co-pilot that they take a leap of faith.
“We’re not going to Vegas,” Osbon told his co-pilot in midflight, according to the affidavit.
Osbon, described by neighbors as tall and muscular, “aggressively” grabbed the hands of a flight attendant who confronted him and later dashed down the cabin while being chased. Passengers wrestled Osbon to the ground, and one female flight attendant’s ribs were bruised during the struggle. No one on board was seriously hurt.
JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said Osbon had been suspended pending a review of the flight. JetBlue CEO and President Dave Barger told NBC’s “Today” show that Osbon is a “consummate professional” whom he has “personally known” for years. He said nothing in the captain’s record indicates he would be a risk on a flight.
In Richmond Hill, a bedroom community on the Georgia coast just south of Savannah, next-door neighbor Bud Lawyer said he’s having a hard time believing the man on the news is his good friend.
Osbon went to church but seldom talked about it and never seemed overly zealous, Lawyer said. And while the friends would occasionally chat about events in the Middle East, their talk never went beyond casual conversation about the events in the news, he said.
“He wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone,” Lawyer said. “He’s a kind-hearted, generous, loving teddy bear. It’s totally out of character for this to happen to him.”
Another longtime friend, Bill Curley, said Osbon is a Christian who has become “increasingly” religious but wasn’t fanatical.
Osbon was also a direct marketer for health shakes sold by Visalus Sciences, a marketing company based in Troy, Mich. Ashley Guerra, a fellow Visalus marketer in Georgia, said she saw Osbon just last weekend and that he appeared friendly and helpful as usual.
Mental health issues…is that included in the healthcare reform model?!!?!?! *side eye/smirk)