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Pax rushes cockpit door on LAX-ORD AA flight

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Pax rushes cockpit door on LAX-ORD AA flight

Old 9th Oct 2001, 02:40
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Post Pax rushes cockpit door on LAX-ORD AA flight

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/news/100801_ns_americana irlines.html

October 8, 2001 A passenger rushed the cockpit of American Airlines flight 1238 from Los Angeles to Chicago. Military jets raced to its side. The plane landed safely at O'Hare Airport around 3 p.m. Officials say the incident was not an act of terrorism, just a random act by a suspect.

Passengers on board Flight 1238 say the young man was sitting in a coach seat when he suddenly jumped up and ran full speed to the cockpit door. The man, believed to be in his 20's, got through the cockpit door, but the pilot managed to force him back outside.
Witnesses say the man was shouting, "save the tower, save the tower."

Witnesses say several passengers stormed after the suspect, rolled him in a blanket and subdued him. A doctor on board the plane also gave the suspect some medication, according to the witnesses.

A man believed to be the suspect's father was traveling with him. According to airline officials, the suspect has a history of mental instability, and may have believed the plane was headed toward the SearsTower.

When the intruder entered the cockpit, the pilot declared an emergency by entering a special code. Passengers say the plane jolted. One man even said he feared for his life, thinking the plane was going down.

Two F-16s scrambled to intercept the plane, creating a sonic boom as they broke the sound barrier at around 767 mph. Some of the northwest suburbs heard that noise, which sounded like two large explosions.

"I heard a huge, gigantic boom," said Sherry, who lives in Barrington and was obviously shaken by the noise.

"I had no idea what I was supposed to do with six kids," she said, her voice shaking. Law enforcement agencies received several calls from residents who heard the boom.

The F-16s escorted the Boeing 767, which was carrying a crew of nine and 153 passengers, to the airport. It landed safely at the airport. Officials took the suspect into custody, and interviewed the other passengers.

No one was injured in the incident, although there are reports a 50-year-old man was taken to the hospital suffering from chest pains.

The FBI says it is possible that no charges will be filed in the case.

[ 09 October 2001: Message edited by: BayAreaLondoner ]
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 03:25
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No Mention of a Skymarshal in the piece?
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 03:29
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No Mention of a Skymarshal in the piece?

I would think the eyewash.....errrr sky marshall would have to be ON the airplane to be mentioned!

[ 08 October 2001: Message edited by: Tripower455 ]
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 06:24
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Tripower455, No longer Lance-ing and I'm not loving it! ONE WORD! Were you a Mountie? ONE WORD?
Airline specific references in the sig! They are actually relevent in my airline's specific forum, where I spend 90% of my Pprune time!
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 07:31
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So the aeroplane was en-route from LAX to ORD. The fighters that scrambled were heard going supersonic by a lady in Barrington (which is very close to ORD). The intercept must have been very close to Chicago.

Good job nobody "twitched" and thought the airplane was "threatening". Although we will tend to think this was a minor incident a slight breakdown in communication in this time critical situation could easily have resulted in this aircraft being shot down.

Good job the pax got involved. Well done to them. Hope we are so fortunate next time.
Old 9th Oct 2001, 08:20
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I'm sorry if I offended you Defpotec with my the original subject of this post.
It was not my intention to make fun of, or to make derogatory references to the mentally ill.

[ 09 October 2001: Message edited by: BayAreaLondoner ]
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 08:28
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DEFPOTEC. I find your comments incredulous and your 'signature' in particularly poor taste. Please try to join us all in the REAL WORLD.
Since DEFPOTEC doesn't have a signature, I assume that you are referring to mine.

It is an airline specific reference, indicating my displeasure with my schedule as a junior Capt. I was a LANCE Captain before, which is a (very senior) left seat qualified first officer. My signature used to read "lance-ing and loving it", to indicate the fact that I liked the flexibility the program allowed. We were debating the merits of the program on our private forum, so I put it in my sig. In all honesty, I was going to change it, but have been to lazy to do so.

One Word is also a contract reference that, unless you work for my airline, will have no idea what it refers to!

Are the comments in my signature STILL in particularly poor taste?

BTW, I haven't seen any sky marshalls either..........
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 09:06
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To quote from the original thread: “One man even said he feared for his life, thinking the plane was going down.”

If past experience is anything to go by, he should be good for at least 1.25 million dollars in compensation from AA for the anguish he suffered.

On a more serious note, if armed fighters are standing by to ‘slam the stable door behind the long ago bolted horse’ (as most of the increased security measures post-Sept 11th could be classified), surely it’s only a matter of time before an aircraft is ordered to be shot down over what could be nothing more than a misunderstanding?

To explain my ‘stable door/bolted horse’ analogy – are there really people out there who believe the next outrage these people carry out, (an almost certainly after the US bombing over the last two nights), will be a carbon-copy of the Sept 11th or even vaguely related to Aviation? My money is on something totally unrelated but designed more to put the fear of the Lord into America and cause maximum disruption as much as to do any actual damage.

Maybe people buying gas masks aren’t overreacting...
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 12:51
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Perhaps a Skymarshall on board would have made the situation on board worse if he would have fired life rounds at the suspect.
From this incident we can learn that the other pax can really help in these situations.

Safety is no accident
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 13:15
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the last two post sums up the situation,in my view. If they are planning another terrorist act it will not be related to aviation and a skymarshall with a gun inside an aircraft would only worsen the situation.
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Old 9th Oct 2001, 14:49
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Sounds like this guy may have had a bipolar disorder or something. There have been similar incidents in the U.S. in the last couple of years. Remember one where the passenger was killed and another where a rare form of menengitis was blamed for the attack?

Here's more from this morning's Chicago Tribune:

Intruder wrestled from cockpit

By Tom McCann and Oscar Avila, Tribune staff reporters. Tribune staff reporters Dan Mihalopoulos, Rogers Worthington, Matt O'Connor and Flynn McRoberts contributed to this report

Published October 9, 2001

A man stormed into the cockpit of a jet Monday afternoon, throwing the Chicago-bound plane into a momentary dive before crew and passengers tackled the man, binding him with the seat belts used by flight attendants to demonstrate safety procedures.

Two F-16 fighter jets scrambled at supersonic speeds to escort the American Airlines 767 to the ground, while passengers dragged the man to a galley, sat on him and a nurse injected him with a sedative stored in a cockpit kit.

The FBI said Edward A. Coburn, 31, of Fresno, Calif., suffered from an "undetermined mental condition." Airline officials said the episode was not related to terrorism. The plane landed safely as scheduled and no injuries were reported.

But as the nation remains on edge after last month's hijackings, the incident was a chilling reminder of how easy it is for even a single, determined aggressor to get into the cockpit of commercial airliner.

"This passenger wasn't a terrorist. He wasn't carrying a weapon. He's just a guy with mental problems," said Carviz Carols, 30, a nurse from Bloomingdale who injected Coburn with 50 milligrams of Benadryl and 10 milligrams of Valium.

Witnesses said Coburn apparently was hallucinating, yelling that terrorists were steering the plane toward the Sears Tower and that he could see people outside the plane's windows.

"He was spitting and cursing and then praying," said Chris Fredericks, a marketing executive from Los Angeles. "He kept yelling that we were the devil and that we were going to hit the Sears Tower."

"He was thinking he was the hero and we were the evil guys," Carols said.

Charges expected

FBI spokesman Ross Rice said prosecutors planned to charge Coburn Tuesday with interference with a flight crew, a felony. Rice said Coburn was under a doctor's care and may not have taken his medication.

It remained unclear Monday evening exactly how Coburn made it into the cockpit. Last week, American announced plans to install reinforcing bars on its cockpit doors, but installation on the entire fleet wasn't to be completed until early November.

Exhortations to the flying public to stay alert, less than four weeks after hijackers crashed three jetliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, apparently paid off, as passengers reacted immediately when flight attendants called for help.

Passengers praised

"It was simply amazing to see what those passengers did. That man was at least 6-foot-2 and so violent," said JoAnn Rockman, a Flossmoor resident who was returning from a California wedding with her husband and 14-year-old son. "But the flight attendant said `Get him,' and, damn it, everyone went up and got him.

"There is never going to be another plane that's just led to slaughter," she added, crying as she came off the jetway into O'Hare.

At least one veteran pilot said the quick response of passengers and military commanders Monday showed that precautions taken in recent weeks have made a difference.

"They scrambled two fighters, got the plane on the ground and took care of this man," said Capt. Tom Bloom, chairman of the Chicago chapter of the Allied Pilots Association. "The system worked."

During the disturbance, the pilot sent a distress signal to air traffic controllers at O'Hare. The FAA, in turn, notified the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which scrambled the fighter jets as part of the combat air patrols the Pentagon ordered in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The sonic booms triggered by the F-16s echoed throughout Chicago's northwest and north suburbs, startling thousands.

"It scared the daylights out of me. I was afraid it was a plane crash," said Denise Heppel of Rolling Meadows, who ran out of her house to see the airliner, flanked by the fighter jets.

It was not long after Flight 1238 took off from Los Angeles with 153 passengers and 9 crew members that some began to notice Coburn, a man with sandy blond hair, wearing a T-shirt, jeans and brown work boots, sitting in row 21 next to his father. Throughout the flight, Coburn was whispering and talking abnormally, said Mark Jacoby, an accountant from Los Angeles who sat in the row behind them.

A passenger sitting next to Coburn asked for a different seat, and the father gave a flight attendant a note explaining Coburn's illness, Jacoby said.

"He kept moving from one seat to another, and he just kept talking and whispering for no apparent reason," Jacoby said.

Warning signs

Flight attendants were even asking passengers to help subdue him in case he got out of control, Jacoby added. The FBI later said there was no air marshal on board.

Then as the plane was about 40 minutes from landing at O'Hare, the man got up from his seat, ran through the aisle, burst into the cockpit and grabbed the pilot, passengers said.

The plane immediately lurched downward, said JoAnn Rockman's husband, Howard Rockman, an attorney. "We've experienced turbulence before, but never anything like this," he said. "We just went down. It scared to death every single passenger on the plane."

But within seconds, as many as 10 passengers and crew members pounced on him, pulled him out of the cockpit and wrestled him to the ground.

Fredericks strapped the man's ankles together with three seat belts while several other passengers sat on the man and tied his wrists with plastic ties and seat belts looped through his belt.

"I immediately thought we were being hijacked," Fredericks said. "Before I could think, I started running for him. I wasn't going to sit down for a second."

Jacoby tried to get out of his seat but was knocked out of the way by another passenger rushing to help. All the while, Fredericks said the man thrashed wildly about, yelling that the plane was about to crash into the Sears Tower.

"First the man blew right by me, and then the passengers were right on his tail," said Kevan Lyon, a San Diego book distributor sitting in first class. "It's like the passengers just knew what to do by instinct. Over the last few weeks, we've been trained to do this."

Adrian Coorey, a law student from Sydney, was awakened by the man's yelling, but he was gripped by fear.

"I took off my seat belt to help, but then I just froze," he said. "Ladies were just crying. People thought they were going to die."
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