View Full Version : Twin sisters get wild; UA diverts to Anchorage

21st Apr 2001, 03:16
No word on whether there will be a rematch from Federal prison, and no pics of the twins to see whether a rematch might be worth paying to watch on pay-per-view.

Also see update info (e.g., 4 pilots on board, girls are models) in post #13 below.
Unruly Sisters Force Plane to Land

By DAN JOLING, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Twin 22-year-old sisters got into a screaming argument aboard a United Airlines flight to China and then
scuffled with crew members who intervened, prompting the pilot to divert the jet to Anchorage, authorities say.

Cynthia and Crystal Mikula of Buckley, Mich., were arrested by airport security and FBI (news - web sites) agents after the Boeing 747 with 255 people aboard touched down Thursday. The identical twins face charges
of interfering with flight crew members.

The women began arguing about four hours after the plane left San Francisco, said Phillip Reid, the FBI agent in charge in Alaska.

A flight attendant tried to calm the sisters, and Cynthia Mikula hit her in the face, Reid said.

One of the pilots walked to the rear of the aircraft and told the sisters to return to their seats, then sat with them to ensure there would be no more trouble, but Cynthia Mikula hit the pilot in the head, Reid said.

When the flight crew put Cynthia Mikula in flexible handcuffs, Crystal Mikula put another flight attendant in a chokehold, Reid said.

Reid said the sisters screamed obscenities during the entire episode.

The sisters were in custody, awaiting an appearance before a federal magistrate Friday.

"United Airlines takes the issue of air rage very seriously,'' airline spokeswoman Whitney Staley said.

The flight was to resume Friday evening after crew members completed a mandatory rest. Passengers were put up in a hotel Thursday night and took a glacier tour Friday.

[This message has been edited by SaturnV (edited 21 April 2001).]

21st Apr 2001, 04:24
10 years in a Chinese prison would serve 'em right.
Instead they are probably getting a good lawyer and a useless jury.

Thanks to a screwed up legal system in the US of A, one can get away with anything.
Just ask O.J.

Men, this is no drill...

21st Apr 2001, 04:27
WOW! -

Something is finally being done about sky-rage. I like that.

With the expense of such diversions, maybe some gate screening will get done.

I hope they sentence the gals to pay for United's lost profits. Simple jail time would be too good and too quick.

21st Apr 2001, 06:13
Just leave 'em in Alaska, should be punishment enough.

21st Apr 2001, 07:13
411A -

Guess again, Alaska has a drastic shortage of women, they'd be instant Tundra Queens.

21st Apr 2001, 10:25
:::From Anchorage, AK:::

So, uh, are these girls cute?

Ignition Override
21st Apr 2001, 10:40
Tower Dog described our US judicial system very well. High-powered attorneys and their multi-millionaire salaries, who can intimidate judges, often make a joke of our legal system.

No US airline wants to comply with the Federal Air Regulation which states that intoxicated passengers are not allowed on board. Maybe the visible symptoms between various people are inconsistent and too subjective to allow the cabin crew to make easy decisions .

How much revenue do US major airlines receive from in-flight liquor sales each year? For example, take American Airlines-are there any inside facts on this?

[This message has been edited by Ignition Override (edited 21 April 2001).]

beaver eager
21st Apr 2001, 12:50
Methinks it'll be a long time before the cost of diversions outweigh the revenue from in-flight liquor sales.

If the symptoms of drunkenness are subjective (and the trouble here is that it affects everyone differently, some just want to be everyone's friend and go to sleep!) how about a compulsory breath test before boarding.

OK, I know that screening everyone would be too expensive. But as pilots in the US (and soon us in Europe, by the look of it) are subject to random testing, how about testing SUSPECTED drunken passengers? The limit doesn't have to be as low as it is for driving/flying but it would mark a line in the sand which could be promulgated on tickets and therefore give protection against possible litigation. If you cross the line it's at your own risk. Behave or suffer the consequences!

It still wouldn't solve the problem of people becoming drunk during the flight though.

I'm afraid it's the same old story. Profit before safety. Mind you, I'd miss the lousy wine with which to wash down the lousy food! If drink were banned totally on flights it'd be another familiar story... a few spoiling it for everyone else.

Forcing people to take responsibility for their own actions is the only way forward. A greater willingness to prosecute coupled with harsher sentencing would be a start.

Alaska sounds quite a deterrent to me! Maybe in the UK we could re-introduce Dickensian work-houses!

21st Apr 2001, 14:08
So here we have the typical US airline dilemma! Keep the cockpit door locked at all times yet if there is a 'situation' on board lets not rely on the training of our cabin crew but send a pilot out to deal with the 'situation'. "One of the pilots walked to the rear of the aircraft and told the sisters to return to their seats, then sat with them to ensure there would be no more trouble, but Cynthia Mikula hit the pilot in the head..."

So if the pilot had been incapacitated we would have had a full emergency situation with a single pilot operating a multi crew heavy jet and at the same time the whole 'locked cockpit door' argument has been thrown out the window! If the pilots can't rely on their cabin crew to deal with any problem pax then the whole training situation for cabin crew needs to be looked at and who would blame a distraught pax sueing the airline because of the pilot who left his position and placed himself in unnecessary jeopardy thus making a bad situation worse!

The airline I fly for forbids pilots leaving the flight deck when they have been told about disruptive or violent pax precisely because of the danger of being attacked and reducing a two pilot crew to a single pilot operating a multi crew a/c. It may seem unchivalrous but at least we train our cabin crew to deal with all scenarios and to keep the flight deck informed all the time. If advised by cabin crew that the situation is out of hand then we would lock the flight deck door for what it's worth and divert.

I suppose it is a macho thing for the pilot to have to go back into the cabin and deal with unruly pax because the 'girlies' can't and the hell with the consequences! Typical! :rolleyes:

21st Apr 2001, 15:08
perhaps they have MORE than 2 pilots? if it's to china, it would be safe to assume they operate with at least 3 pilots...

21st Apr 2001, 15:29
Yeah, you're probably right. Didn't think of that because my company make us fly single sectors up to 11.5+ hours block time with no relief crew. Thanks to the CAA for that!

21st Apr 2001, 16:01
As usual, OzDude makes a valid argument, even if somewhat more restrained than his normal outspoken self :)

The "girlies" should indeed be able to cope with violent pax better than the lads from up front. It's the FA's who are supposed to have the people skills and the training for this sort of thing not the pilots!

And regarding the "brawn over brain" issue; never been in a situation yet where there wasn't a number of burly male pax more than willing to come to our asistance. One of those instances where I think: "Thank God for testoterone!!" :)

If our training in fighting unruly pax would be as thorough as the pilot's training in fighting their emergencies, the problem would rapidly disapear.

21st Apr 2001, 16:51

There may not be a lot of information forthcoming, but scenarios such as this are typically an evolution to a revolution.

In all liklihood, the FAs were serving the gals right up to the initial fight. Liqour sales are a very big portion of the profits. If it can be discovered, there is an excellent posssibility that the liqour isn't purchased at expected wholesale prices. You might get killed for asking about it though.

Perhaps the appropriate cockpit cockpit response would be to land and request another crew of flight attendants. "You got 'em drunk; you answer the questions."

11.5 hour segements with two-man crews? Wow! Throw in a compound emergency at the end of that session, after the fourth such segment in a row. Shades of SR-111!

I thought the FAA was brutal. Hell, they're trying to catch up to the CAA.

21st Apr 2001, 17:58
The girls were apparently models (but still no pics). Four pilots were on board. Further details below.
Twin Sisters Charged With Felonies

Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Twin sisters who said they were flying to a modeling contest in China were charged with federal felonies Friday after they allegedly downed too many drinks too quickly, began swearing at each other and used the aircraft restroom to smoke.

Federal prosecutors said identical twins Cynthia and Crystal Mikula, 22, of Buckley, Mich., hit and spit on members of the crew as flight attendants tried to calm the pair.

FBI Special Agent Michael Thoreson said the twins did not appear intoxicated before boarding the plane. They were said to have consumed several drinks after the in-flight movie and began arguing near a restroom at the rear of the plane.

Passengers reported smelling cigarette smoke in the restroom.

Thoreson said Cynthia Mikula told her sister, "I've gotta get out of here. Let me off this airplane, I gotta smoke.''

When a flight attendant tried to intervene, Cynthia Mikula swung and hit her with an open hand, bloodying the woman's nose.

A male crew member escorted the women to their seats. Cynthia Mikula hit him, too, Thoreson said. The crew restrained her with plastic handcuffs at ankles and wrists after she hit a third crew member and spit on another, Thoreson said.

At that point, Thoreson said, Crystal Mikula became violent. She struck one flight attendant and jumped on the back of another, choking him and scratching his neck.

The women were charged with interfering with the performance of a flight crew, a felony, after United Airlines flight 857 from San Francisco to Shanghai was diverted to Anchorage late Thursday.

The Mikulas were arraigned Friday before U.S. Magistrate John Roberts, who ordered them held pending a preliminary hearing and bail hearing Wednesday.

The twins, arraigned in separate hearings, asked for court-appointed attorneys and were told charges against them could bring 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

The jet was 1,100 miles from Anchorage, when it was turned back to Alaska.

The Mikulas continued to scream profanities until they were arrested at the airport, Thoreson said.

The Boeing 747 carried 233 passengers and 22 crew members, including four pilots and 18 flight attendants, said Whitney Staley of United Airlines' media relations office in Chicago.

Passengers were put up in a hotel Thursday night and took a glacier tour Friday, Staley said. The flight continued to Shanghai Friday night after the crew completed a mandatory rest.

21st Apr 2001, 18:09
A man in Alaska doesn't lose his girlfriend, just his turn....

21st Apr 2001, 18:47
Hey capt kangaroo, shooting from the hip again my antipodean friend. Could have been a relief pilot, and why not, if the situation was getting out of hand, the capt might also have been seeking an assessment whether to divert or not.

21st Apr 2001, 19:00
Change the playing field.

One cabin crew designated and trained and capable as security officer. For the air rage folks not the terrorists.

Sigh....Some peoples children!

21st Apr 2001, 19:53

The jurisdiction matter will be interesting, by itself.

If the girls are smart, they will plead guilty, apologize and take their lumps in Anchorage - praying for minimum sentencing.

Otherwise - despite what the U.S. Constitution implies - they could be tried in Salt Lake and thrown in prison in Florida.

The story is already changing, it would be interesting to get passenger accounts.

21st Apr 2001, 20:02

By Molly Brown And Peter Porco
Anchorage Daily News
(Published April 21, 2001)

Identical twins on a flight to China, purportedly for a modeling competition, cursed, screamed and brawled with each other and the flight crew Thursday, causing such a ruckus that pilots diverted the jet to Anchorage.

The 22-year-old sisters, Crystal and Cynthia Mikula of Buckley, Mich., were each charged with interfering with a flight crew Friday, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison.

The twins and 231 other passengers were three hours into a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Shanghai on Thursday when they ordered several alcoholic drinks, according to the FBI.

What followed was a "donnybrook at 36,000 feet," said FBI Special Agent Eric Gonzalez.

The Mikulas began yelling cuss words and physically fighting with each other, according to an FBI affidavit attached to the criminal complaint. They got out of their seats to use the bathroom numerous times, and at one point came out of the same bathroom together. A passenger who then used the bathroom smelled cigarette smoke and perfume, according to the FBI.

The twins continued to scream and yell profanity at each other and nearby passengers, according to the FBI. And they got up to use the bathroom again.

At that point, Cynthia Mikula told her sister that she needed to leave the plane and threatened to open a door, according to the FBI.

"I've gotta get out of here. Let me off this airplane. I've gotta smoke. You've gotta open this door," she said.

One of 18 flight attendants on board tried to calm the girls, but Cynthia Mikula struck her on the nose, causing it to bleed. The flight attendant -- who later told an FBI agent the punch "hurt like hell" -- left the twins near the bathrooms.

One of the four pilots then escorted the sisters to their assigned seats and sat in the aisle seat next to them. Cynthia Mikula, in the window seat, eventually reached over her sister and punched the captain on the head, the FBI said.

The pilot then left the girls alone.

Another flight attendant tried to calm the twins, but Cynthia Mikula struck him in the face too, the FBI said. She continued to swing at other flight attendants, spitting on one of them.

Cynthia Mikula phoned her mother, and after speaking with her threw the telephone against a wall, according to the FBI. She kept on swinging at the crew, eventually causing one to lock her wrists and ankles in plastic restraints, similar to handcuffs. She was laid on the floor, cursing still.

As crew members restrained her sister, Crystal Mikula screamed, yelled, jumped on a flight attendant's back and put him in a choke hold, according to the FBI.

By this time, the 747-400 jet was 2,200 miles from Tokyo and 1,100 miles from Anchorage. The four pilots opted to land the plane in Anchorage. The Mikula sisters were escorted off the plane by authorities at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport at 10 p.m. Thursday.

The other passengers were taken to hotels. They were offered the chance to tour Anchorage or Portage Glacier on Friday.

The United flight was scheduled to leave Anchorage Friday evening for Shanghai, but without the twins. They will remain at the Sixth Avenue Jail until at least Wednesday, when a federal magistrate has scheduled a preliminary hearing.

The young women -- tall, slender, red-haired -- appeared in court separately Friday afternoon wearing navy blue jail suits and reading glasses, and looking like they had had a very long night. Cynthia Mikula winced when authorities removed handcuffs. Her arms were covered with bruises.

Both sisters told Magistrate John Roberts that they were not employed and could not afford attorneys. Crystal Mikula said she had about $17 and no credit cards.

"All I have is my clothes. That's all in my suitcase," she said.

Cynthia Mikula said she had $130 and a car in Michigan that has been totaled twice. The twins also make payments to their father for a $10,000 loan he helped secure them so they could move to California, she said.

The sisters appear to have developed a bit of a reputation in their hometown, where former teachers described them as talented but troublesome.

"They're feisty. If they get mad at each other, they'll fight each other. They're very strange girls, but they had a lot of potential," said Peter Newell, the administrator of alternative education at Mesick Consolidated School in Buckley, a school for difficult students from which the Mikulas graduated in 1996. Newell said. "Their language (on the plane) -- I can imagine what it turned into, a free-for-all."

Newell also called the sisters "extremely intelligent young ladies" who tutored other Mesick students.

"Where did they learn to manage their anger?" he wondered. "Screaming at each other, pulling their hair out -- there's a long history."

"They have not been good citizens for a long time," said Sandy Kellogg, a secretary at the K-12 Buckley Community School, another school the sisters attended. The girls were on the honor roll and competed on the track team, Kellogg said.

"They were very productive young ladies, and then they started hanging around with the wrong crowd," she said.

Reporter Molly Brown can be reached at [email protected] or 907-257-4343. Peter Porco can be reached at [email protected] or 907-257-4582.

21st Apr 2001, 23:23

These people need to be taught to respect the law, it was put there for everybodys safety.
It's time to start doling out some proper sentences for these "nearly humans" can you imagine if the F/A was your sister, wife, daughter?

The first few who get 20 years or lose their passport for good (yes, in UK the courts have the power to take your passport away...FOREVER) I think we would see them sitting quietely at the back.


22nd Apr 2001, 00:54
Since everyone asked so nicely, here are some photographs, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle, and a video news report which includes onboard footage of the incident.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2001/04/21/MN21 8107.DTL&type=news (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2001/04/21/MN218107.DTL&type=news)

[This message has been edited by FrontWindowSeat (edited 21 April 2001).]

22nd Apr 2001, 01:01
Solutions afoot !

We all know that these people should be walking or using surface transport we all say what should be done !

Who is doing it ?

Have a look at http://www.smartgroups.com/groups/airrage

Go to messages or votes and put some input in, there is a commercial solution, needs more research fill it in, E-Mail it to your address book.

A solution is around the corner.

To get it you've got to give it !


22nd Apr 2001, 02:42
Ozdude, On our (UA) 747-400s we do carry an extra pilot. Chances were it was not the 'captain' but more likely he fondly sent the 'bunky' out to help out the crew. Skydrifter, Liquor is free on Int'l flights so there is no 'profit' motivation to serve that pax drinks. Please remember that there are 18 crew, 8 in ECY where the twins were sitting. This has been discussed here before but it quite likely that they asked several crew for one drink, and kept their heads about them until the nicotine need hit them. So please do not lay the blame for this solely at the crews feet. They could have brought their own supply for all anyone knows.

22nd Apr 2001, 03:33
And again...

A guitarist with the US rock band REM has
been charged by police after an alleged "air
rage" incident on board a flight to the UK.
Peter Buck has been charged with two common assaults on air crew, criminal damage,
being drunk on an aircraft and a public order
offence following an incident on a British
Airways flight.

The millionaire rock star was arrested at
Heathrow Airport on Saturday morning as he
got off flight BA 048 from Seattle. He will appear at Uxbridge Magistrates Court
on Monday.
REM are due to play at the South Africa
Freedom Day Concert in London's Trafalgar
Square on Sunday 29 April in front of Nelson
Mandela and a 20,000-strong crowd. The band is widely regarded as one of the
most influential groups of the past two
decades and have been an inspiration for a
generation of "alternative" rock bands.

BBC on-line

22nd Apr 2001, 11:02
Itīs just a question of when they will start having stunguns onboard!

Nothing to see here, just making use of the internet!

22nd Apr 2001, 18:12
Rollingthunder: Korean Air used to carry a security officer on board every flight. I don't know if they still do that.

I believe that UA flight was actually double crewed. Two captains and two F/Os.

22nd Apr 2001, 20:00

Thanks for pictures. (I guess)

Them bitches are ugly, doubt they were going to "model" anything in China.
Probably a couple of hookers trying for some business with the Chinamen.

Hope they spend a loooong time in jail.

[This message has been edited by TowerDog (edited 22 April 2001).]

23rd Apr 2001, 16:35
A passenger videotaped much of the episode, as excerpts were shown on a US morning news show today. Given the evidence, they probably should negotiate a guilty plea, and a year or two sentence at a Federal prison camp.

At least from the excerpts, the pilot and FA's seemed to be taking reasonable actions to quiet their disruptive behavior.

23rd Apr 2001, 18:17

In one case, a passenger sucessfully murdered an entire planeload. AK-259 came awfully close last year to another of those (hushed up by the Seattle FAA). The Japanese had a captain killed by a sky-rager. A passenger was murdered by an over-zealous bunch of pax in SLC (hushed up by the Seattle FAA).

Assertive measures need to be taken to prevent this kind of stuff. Passenger screening and monitoring is FREE - where is the effort????

Thank God the crews are at least diverting.

The maddening part is that the same screening / monitoring serves as an anti-terrorist measure & vice versa. This isn't rocket science.

The moral of this lesson in the U.S. is that not even tombstones will motivate the FAA, anymore.

Flying is disproportionately safe. At least something is being done about that, after all these years. It may not be progress, but it is profitable.

24th Apr 2001, 09:07
You notice this type of incident never happens on El Al?

Perhaps it's the one or two first class pax that keep their jackets on, with the mysterious bulges....

24th Apr 2001, 10:53

You're exactly on target! Good show.

24th Apr 2001, 14:23
But the bottom line with many of these incidents is nicotine addiction. For most smokers alcohol induces the desire to light up even more. Imprisoned for long hours in a tube does nothing to help these poor addicts. It won't stop others. Why? Because I'm certain that none of these air rage perpetrators boarded their aircraft with the intention of causing trouble. Ten years in jail isn't the solution. Smoking areas on longhaul flights could be. P.S. I'm a non smoker.

25th Apr 2001, 09:53
As the United Captain of that flight I'd just like to say that I had three more cocktails that the chicks in 32 A and B, I swated the Purser for forgetting my lunch roll and had a smoke in the toilet and I didn't get in trouble! The reason being? Well we've never heard of the customer being right at United.

25th Apr 2001, 13:35

What a breath of fresh air http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/confused.gif :)

Nice to see a non-smoker who appreciates the additional stress suffered by heavy smokers when not allowed to indulge their addiction.

It wouldn't make me go to the lengths these silly moos did, but I certainly get a little stressed when I have to do a long sector withou my fags - especially after a couple of hours in a non-smoking airport and another hour to look forward to at the destination as there's never any smoking areas in baggage reclaim!

What goes around . . .
. . often lands better!

I'd rather
25th Apr 2001, 13:52
I agree with Avman and Ex-sim - anyone who smokes finds doing without for more than, say, 4 hours, extremely difficult and reason starts to go out of the window. Smoking should NOT be banned on long-haul flights (I am also a non-smoker). Incidentally, I've found the air quality better on the non-smoking flights I've been on - there seems to be a greater quantity of fresh air being sent into the cabin to combat the cigarette smoke.

As for alcohol, I agree that more steps should be taken to identify drunken passengers and potential troublemakers before they get on the flight. But as one of the vast majority who reacts to one extra drink by sleeping like a baby for the rest of the flight, I agree that the minority shouldn't be allowed to spoil it for the rest of us. A blanket ban on alcohol is not the answer.

25th Apr 2001, 13:56
If Avman is correct, then rather than having those nasty smoking areas in the cabin, perhaps the flight attendants should hand out patches with the G&T’s. Cheaper than diverting an aircraft and more acceptable to the non smokers among us.


25th Apr 2001, 15:02
Give the smokers an enclosed section on the plane and charge them more for the privelege, I know most would pay a bit extra (I would). If they can provide a smoking carriage on trains then why not long haul flights.

25th Apr 2001, 18:07

There might be a viable idea there. The design would be damned expensive (enclosure, evacuation provisions, effective isolation / ventilation, etc), but even though I'm a non-smoker, I'd say that's actually a terrific idea for long-haul flights on jumbos.

Good thinking. No doubt they'd be forced to buy airline cigarettes.

Alas reality - "...Ladies and Gentlemen, if anyone experiences a nicotine problem, we do carry nicotine tablets, provided for a nominal charge. Again, smoking aboard an aircraft is a Federal offense."

26th Apr 2001, 05:17
And you'ld have to find a FA to work in that enclosed section.

Cyclic Hotline
28th Apr 2001, 01:01
A recent United air-rage incident resulted in the perpetrator having to pay the expenses incurred for the aircraft diverting to Anchorage (estimated at up to $64,000). Perhaps the same penalty awaits this pair.

Anchorage truly seems to have become the air-rage capital of the world, as all those overheading aircraft keep dropping in to dump off the unruly. Good for business at the airport though! :)

Air rage suspect's release denied

RULING: Twin can be freed only to a court-approved custodian.

By Molly Brown
Anchorage Daily News

(Published April 27, 2001)
A federal magistrate Thursday refused to release one of the twin sisters accused of interfering with the crew of a United Airlines flight bound for Shanghai and continued bail hearings for both women.

U.S. Magistrate John Roberts said Crystal Mikula, the 22-year-old woman accused of putting a flight attendant in a chokehold, needs a court-approved custodian because she has no means to support herself, little money, no ties to Alaska and a criminal record in Michigan.

"Otherwise, she might as well be living at a hotel down the street and somebody else could pay the tab," Roberts said.

Following Roberts' decision, attorneys asked that Crystal Mikula's detention hearing be continued until today and that Cynthia Mikula's hearing be scheduled for Tuesday. After the hearing both women returned to jail for a seventh day, an ocean away from the international modeling competition they were scheduled to be in.

Ray Brown, representing Cynthia Mikula, said after the hearing it is possible that one or both of the twins' parents -- who took out a second mortgage on their house to make their daughters' modeling career possible -- would come to Anchorage if the court accepts them as custodians.

Brown told Roberts that Cynthia Mikula has pain and numbness in one of her wrists and may have a nerve injury. Attorneys had suggested Wednesday that the plastic restraints used around her ankles and wrists were attached too tightly.

Mary Geddes, Crystal Mikula's attorney, said she might be able to find a custodian for her client by today.

Assistant U.S. attorney Charlie Brown asked Roberts to hold Crystal Mikula in jail because she has no ties to the community, no local "kin" and is accused of a serious crime.

"This young lady has some anger control issues and maybe some alcohol issues," he said.

Geddes told Roberts that if Crystal Mikula were released, she would stay in a residence or hostel within a quarter-mile of the federal courthouse. She would check in with authorities twice daily and could be screened for drug and alcohol use, the attorney said, adding that her parents would pay the bill.

Geddes argued that Crystal Mikula is not dangerous. "At worst what she did was attempt to interrupt when her sister was apparently in a lot of pain," the attorney said.

The hearing was postponed before attorneys addressed Cynthia Mikula's detention status.

The twins, from Buckley, Mich., landed in Anchorage after an airborne brawl on a flight from San Francisco to Shanghai. The ruckus started with the twins swearing at each other and reached a crescendo with Cynthia Mikula being placed in plastic restraints while Crystal Mikula put a flight attendant in a chokehold, according to the FBI. Cynthia Mikula bloodied a flight attendant's nose, hit other crew members, and both women attempted to smoke in the airplane's lavatory, the FBI said.

They are each charged with interfering with a flight crew, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison and as much as a $250,000 fine.

The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday that the twins won an all-expenses paid trip to the Shanghai fashion expo at a Los Angeles modeling and talent competition.

They wowed Asian modeling firms and received 13 calls, the best the $7,000 trip to Shanghai that came with spending money, clothes, and hotel accommodations, the newspaper said.

Top prize was $8,000 and tons of exposure, the story said.

Charles Nemes, the owner of a Michigan modeling school, told the Free Press he discovered the sisters five years ago. "They had their foot in the door and that's what everybody wants in this business," Nemes told the newspaper.

Buckley, where the Mikulas live, is a town of 550 people. According to the Free Press, the sisters have been in trouble for traffic violations and for possession of alcohol as minors. The story said both spent 21 days in jail in 1996 for shoplifting.

The trip to California in January was their first on an airplane.

The newspaper said the sisters called their mother six times during the rowdy, aborted flight to China last week. During the last call, their mother, Vicky, said she heard Cynthia screaming that the flight crew was trying to kill her, the newspaper said.

Their father, Joseph Mikula, said his daughters had dreamed of becoming international models. He told the Free Press that he would sell everything he has to help the twins but that he was concerned about their trip to Asia.

"I was worried about them being in China," he said. "It could be that this is a blessing in disguise."

Cyclic Hotline
28th Apr 2001, 19:57
They made the paper again today!

Twin chooses jail time over halfway house
WAITING: No pre-trial release for felony suspect.

By Sheila Toomey
Anchorage Daily News

(Published April 28, 2001)
One of the twin brawlers charged with disrupting a flight to China last week refused an offer to trade jail for a halfway house Friday after a federal judge said she could not await trial on her own at a local boarding home.

Through her attorney, Crystal Mikula said she'd rather remain where she is, at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, than go to the Cordova Center, where she would only be allowed out for scheduled appointments with a doctor, her lawyer or the judge.

Mikula and her 22-year-old twin, Cynthia, are from Michigan. They were arrested April 19 after a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Shanghai diverted to Anchorage with at least one sister in plastic cuffs following a series of events that included drinking, cursing, screaming, hitting, choking, smoking in the bathroom, throwing a phone against a wall, and demanding that a plane door be opened in flight, according to the FBI.

Both sisters are charged with interfering with a flight crew, a federal felony.

Defense attorneys are playing the twin card and refuse to attach either sister's name to any specific action. They're identical, so prosecutors can't say with certainty who did what, assuming anyone did anything, the defense argued in an earlier court hearing.

Crystal is the one accused of putting a choke hold on an airline attendant. Cynthia is the one charged with bloodying an attendant's nose.

The twins were on an expense-paid trip to China to participate in a modeling competition, an adventure they hoped would kick-start a fashion career, according to a Michigan newspaper that talked to the family back in Buckley, population 550. Their parents reportedly floated a second mortgage on the family home to finance their career efforts.

If the goal of the trip was to get a name for themselves, the twins succeeded. Local news organizations and their lawyers have been fielding calls from media outlets all over the country -- Good Morning America and Playboy.com among them.

On Friday, only Crystal was in court. Pale and subdued, she resembled neither a model nor the hooligan pictured in the charges or on a videotape taken by someone on the plane during part of the action.

Seated at the defense table in the small courtroom, Mikula wore a dark blue two-piece prison outfit over a white pullover, accessorized with what appeared to be an institution identification bracelet. Her long red hair hung in two braids that curved around her ears and down below her shoulders.

She said the only drug she's on these days is Tylenol. She looked very unhappy and spoke only when spoken to.

Defense attorney Michael Taggart asked Magistrate John Roberts to release Mikula to Eagle Crest, a Salvation Army rooming house in downtown Anchorage that caters to the mentally ill and people in addiction recovery. Eagle Crest keeps an eye on its residents and sometimes tests blood alcohol levels, but they will not act as a court appointed custodian or take responsibility for anyone, Taggart and assistant U.S. attorney prosecutor Charlie Brown agreed.

Taggart said a local man had volunteered to keep tabs on Mikula by calling her six times a day. She could get food from the Women's Resource Center and her parents promised to send what money they could.

Suggestions that the parents would be coming to Alaska were not true, Taggart said. They can't afford the trip.

Brown argued that release to Eagle Crest was too much freedom for someone with Mikula's history. She and her sister both have minor criminal records in Michigan, but Crystal once failed to report as ordered while on probation, a bad omen for someone seeking pre-trial release, he said.

Taggart countered that Mikula is broke, not a flight risk and not a danger to the community. "And given the notoriety this case has generated, I doubt very much if she can disappear into the woodwork anyway."

Roberts said no. Although Mikula refused the offer of a halfway house during the hearing, Roberts signed an order allowing her to reconsider when a bed becomes available, which is expected to be some time next week.

After the hearing, defense attorney Michael Taggart explained that Mikula figured if she has to be locked up, she might as well stay in jail where at least she gets credit for time served toward any sentence that may eventually be handed down. Time spent at Cordova House before trial doesn't count.

Cyclic Hotline
18th May 2001, 21:10
One month later and still in custody! Think they might start getting the picture soon?

Twins indicted in air-rage case

By Molly Brown
Anchorage Daily News

(Published May 18, 2001)
Identical twin models whose bad behavior caused a non-stop United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Shanghai to divert to Anchorage in April were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

The grand jury charged Crystal and Cynthia Mikula, 22, from Buckley, Mich., with interfering with a flight crew, a federal felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The diversion occurred on April 19, after the women fought with each other, struck crew members and tried to smoke in the airplane's lavatory, said assistant U.S. attorney Charlie Brown.

Crystal Mikula is accused of putting a flight attendant in a choke hold, and Cynthia Mikula is accused of assaulting several crew members. Cynthia Mikula was eventually placed in plastic handcuffs.

U.S. Magistrate John Roberts approved the Mikula parents as custodians, and required both parents to accompany their daughters on the plane home to Michigan. Roberts said he didn't feel confident a single parent could control both women.

The twins remain in custody awaiting arraignment.

Max Angle
18th May 2001, 21:27
Allow smoking again!!!. You must be of joking!. There are plenty of other ways of getting nicotine into the bloodstream. Gum and patches work very well and I believe Virgin hand them out on flights to those that want them. The problem is that some people simply don't know how to behave in public.

19th May 2001, 16:38
I've seen the videos and these two women exhibited the most appalling behavior I have ever seen in public. A nicotine addiction alone couldn't have triggered such a disgusting act. They are nothing but spoiled little brats, used to getting their own way and being pampered by their parents. These poor folks even took out a second mortgage on their home to help pay for these little monsters modeling career.Throw the book at them!