“This Is Your Captain Freaking.”

Say what you want about the journalistic principles of the New York Post; that headline was brilliant. They used it to describe what happened when a JetBlue pilot went off his head (that is, I believe, the technical term) and potentially tried to take down a plane he was supposed to be safely flying to Las Vegas.

According to reports, Captain Clayton Osborn got to his flight from New York to Sin City much later than usual. Apparently, the destination was part of the problem. He reportedly started talking about religion as soon as he got on the bird, muttering about the sinfulness of the town where they were meant to land.

Now, I’m sorry. I have sympathy for those whose minds are less than sound, be it temporarily or permanently (Lord knows I’ve had my doubts about my own). And I have faith, however I may wrestle with it.  But if you get on a plane and start talking about religion? One of us is getting off said plane before it taxis to the runway, knowwhatI’msayin’? 

At the controls, Capt. Osborn apparently told air traffic controllers to be quiet. In the air, he shut down some of the stuff that was supposed to be turned on, including the lights inside the cockpit. And then he told his co-pilot that “things just don’t matter” and “we need to take a leap of faith.”

“We’re not going to Vegas,” he said.

Now. If you’re going to tell me my flight isn’t going to where I thought it was going, then the next thing you say had better be, “We’re going to Hawaii instead.” This guy? This guy didn’t really specify where they were going instead.

But then the captain made a mistake that foiled his plan. He left the cockpit. And the co-pilot? Locked him out.

This is getting so good, right?

Our boy Osborn then went alternately speaking calmly with the flight crew and rampaging about the cabin, yelling stuff and grabbing flight attendants in ways most captains have never grabbed a flight attendant before (and that’s saying something). So the co-pilot got on the intercom – because at this point I guess the cat’s out of the bag and everyone pretty much knows they’ve got a problem and told basically everybody on the plane to restrain Capt. Osborn.

Flight Team Avenger! Go! Provided you’ve understood a single word of what was just said on the piece of crap intercom!

In true post-9/11 American fashion, a bunch of people jumped on the dude – who was pretty big, as I understand, and was ranting about bombs and Al Qaeda, from what I’ve read. It kind of seems like he wasn’t yelling that he was going to be the Al Qaeda bomber guy… more like he was scared someone else was going to be. But still, I’d prefer that those words not be used in-flight.

And you have to ask yourself: what would I do if I were on that plane? The general consensus among myself and those I’ve talked with about this is that everything would be on the table. Mixed martial arts, biting, hair-pulling… hanging onto a leg while he drags us down the aisle… all options and very likely to be employed.

There’s video of this whole thing, by the way, taken by a passengers. It’s hard to hear what’s going on toward the front of the plane, but you can see a bunch of people standing in the aisle and leaning on their seats.


Kind of makes you realize there’s not a whole lot of room to wrestle a guy to the floor on a plane. Nothing on the little Cartoon Card O’ In-Flight Problem Solving demonstrates how to take down a deranged captain. Oh, and in case this hasn’t become, like, really, really obvious, there was no federal air marshal on this particular flight.

There was, however, an off-duty pilot deadheading back from wherever he had been. And so he went up to the cockpit and took over, landing the plane at its diversion point: the not-so-Vegasy city of Amarillo, Texas.

Once on the ground, Captain Crazypants gets taken down by the feds, all the while screaming and hollering about Iraq and Israel. Just randomly yelling out the names of countries we’re kind of allied with but sort of kind of quietly not very comfortable around. And then… and then he yells, “Oh, I’m so distraught!”

Watch and listen (sorry if there’s an ad first):


Alright, wait.

Wait… is this…?

Are you…?

Are you, like, Will Ferrell in a costume, or something?

Is Ashton Kutcher on this flight? Are we being punk’d? Who yells, “Iraq! Israel! Oh, I’m so distraught!” while actually being distraught? How is the next thing he says not “He punted Baxter!” or “Milk was a bad choice!”?

(I’m quoting Anchorman starring Will Ferrell, in case you’re completely lost. You should see it. It’s awesome. And there’s gonna be a sequel, and I’m not groaning with dread. So that’s a hearty endorsement.)

Amazingly, nobody was badly hurt in this whole endeavor, and also the plane stayed in the air until it landed completely properly and not even a little bit on fire. What are the odds that you’ll have an off-duty pilot deadheading on your flight right when an on-duty pilot loses his mind? Not very high, to my way of thinking.

Luck, be a lady tonight. Get those passengers to Vegas – every one of ’em’s gonna hit the jackpot.


35 thoughts on ““This Is Your Captain Freaking.”

  1. Best. Post. Ever.

    How have I not heard this story yet? (Maybe ’cause I don’t own a television.)

    I cannot imagine if this happened on my flight. I’m usually so DISTRAUGHT just from being airborne that I need a glass of wine under the best of conditions. I have no idea how I’d cope with this – crisis + no drink cart? Sheesh.

    Separately… THIS is why first class should be reserved for linebackers, not rich mushy business travelers.

    Finally: what if this dude and “peace out” flight attendant had been on the same flight? That would be Pay-Per-View worthy.

    • I do think it’s the TV think that’s hanging you up. Get on that. Seriously, you’re missing good stuff that’s also great blog fodder. I don’t even watch that much entertaining television. I watch mostly news and frankly, that’s the best blog fodder there is. But I have a feeling you would either A) take the bitch down (the person causing the problem, not the plane); or 2) take pictures and write a blog post about it while sitting in your seat with your hand alongside your face like, “I’m not here. You don’t see me.”

      Totally agree with you about first class, BTW. I’m not a nervous flyer at all,but I flew first class once, because I’d been bumped from a flight and they upgraded me when they got me on another one, and we had an incident before we left the ground, and I learned that, in first class, you get to see the flight attendants freak out up close. Not a selling point. If I’m calmer than them? Problem.

  2. Awesome post! I have a serious claustrophobia with flying – have only flown twice since 1998. Mainly due to “inherited brain chemistry” (thanks mom’s side of the family!). I don’t really worry about turbulence or terrorist activity. I’m worried about getting trapped in a closed-in fuselage. And oddly, this didn’t happen till after I got out of the Air Force and had flown all over the place.

    Yeah, sounds like Captain McStraightjacket may be have some issues of his own. Love the headline. I too, have more fun with headlines sometimes than I do with the content – is that a bad thing?? hehehe

  3. most ridiculous flight ever! “Sorry, we’re not going ISRAEL! to vegas because it’s IRAQ! sinful…I’m so distraught”… that’s how I picture him… like, ‘countries of the world’ tourettes 😛

  4. I am so glad I did not see this before my flight this morning………………..

    I’m just glad the co-pilot had the good sense to lock him out of the cockpit, or this story could’ve really ended badly. Oh, and this post was HILARIOUS.

  5. The reality is ………….. bless the co-pilot. He locked the captain out and gave approval for taking out the pilot. I believe he would have been just fine landing the plane without assistance. And the good news is………………. since 9/11, people are more wiling to step up and take control in these types of situtations.

  6. I think the brave passengers on that plane showed exactly what most people would do when confronted with this type of danger – get it on their phones for YouTube.

    • They did display true courage. It’s tough to turn your phone back on and find your camera function and settings when your hands are shaking from the fear that you might crash into oblivion. But the story must be told.

  7. I almost wrote a post about the flight attendant that freaked out. When I watched the video, I was astonished how many phones were out videoing her. The woman’s having a breakdown and all people want to do is video it. We’ve become such a nation of freaking voyeurs.

    • It’s an odd reaction, to be sure. I don’t know that it would be the first – or third or fourth – thing that I would do. I do see value in it to some degree: it can help with investigations, etc. But generally it seems strange that the idea is “Hey, look at this person freaking out!”

    • It’s been like that since Rodney King, if not longer. I’m still amazed that the person stood there and videotaped a vicious beating without lifting a finger to stop it.

  8. I knew I should have watched the news last week! But I’m glad to pick it up from your blog, instead. Btw, did the captain threaten to stab anyone in the eyes?

  9. OMG that was both hilarious and terrifying. WTF is going ON up there? The captain was having some sort of episode…I guess this happens. What really scares me is why was the co-pilot not capable of landing the plane himself? Isn’t that, like, why he’s there?!?

    I am putting everyone I love on a plane in 2 weeks to go to Florida. Without me. I am now officially freaking out. But not enough not to realize that Captain Crazypants is a really funny title.

    I’ll be sure to thank JM for introducing us. Nice to meet you.

    • Sorry it took me a bit to get back to you. Your comment went to spam for some reason. I can’t say the co-pilot wasn’t capable. I just know there was an off-duty captain present and I guess if they’re there they have to help. But don’t freak out – these things can’t possibly happen twice in such a short period of time! My whole family was on a plane once, heading home from a wedding, and I’d flown a different airline. Frankly, I felt bad for their flight crew. Quite the hungover bunch were we.

  10. I feel sorry for him- he clearly snapped. That, imo, is God in action; having planted another sane pilot on the flight that needed it………… Happy Good Friday and Easter, too. 🙂

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