Clayton Osbon was an unassuming family man before a mid-air mental breakdown made the JetBlue captain a household name. Indeed, there is little in Osbon's history that would suggest what happened on Tuesday's Los Vegas-bound Flight 191.
As authorities began to piece together what happened, others still were trying to learn more about the man who was eventually subdued by his horrified passengers and removed from his aircraft in a stretcher.
What Happened on JetBlue Flight 191
Here's what we know so far according to JetBlue:
Flight 191 departed New York's JFK airport at 7:28 a.m. ET on Tuesday and at roughly 11:00 a.m., the pilot in command elected to divert to Amarillo, Tex. for a medical situation involving the captain. Another captain traveling off duty entered the flight deck prior to landing in Amarillo and took over the duties of the ill crewmember. The plane landed in Amarillo at 11:11 and the ill crewmember was removed from the aircraft and taken to a local medical facility.
Here's what we know so far according to witness accounts, some of which were videotaped:
Osbon left the cockpit and began talking with some of the passengers. When he tried to re-enter and realized it was locked, he became agitated. Numerous passengers say that the 49-year-old captain then ran through the cabin screaming say your prayers and we're all going down while ranting about Iraq, al-Qaeda, and acts of terrorism. Several witnesses say a flight attendant then got on the intercom and asked passengers -- several of which were headed to an International Security Conference that will take place at Las Vegas' Sands Expo and Convention Center this Wednesday through Friday -- to restrain him. Passengers offered up their belts to keep the captain subdued.
A video posted on YouTube (below) shows passengers huddled near the front of the plane attempting to document the scene on their cameras as a crew member says, Please everybody, we don't need pictures of this. Just stay seated.
Osbon was removed from the plane in Amarillo on a stretcher and driven to Northwest Texas Hospital.
Who is Clayton Osbon?
Writer Christine S. Lucas profiled Clayton Osbon last year for the Guys in the Sky issue of the Georgia-based magazine Richmond Hill Reflections. She said she met Osbon several times in the course of the interview.
Nothing made me think something dangerous or even as unusual as this would happen, she told IBTimes. I look forward to hearing what caused this to happen, and my heart goes out to him.
In her article, Lucas describes Osbon as a man who began his first flights at seven and dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
I've been instrument-flying since before I could see over the dashboard - sitting on phone books eventually, he boasted, referring to the act of navigation by referencing instruments instead of the topography outside.
Lucas calls him a man who believes you should offer whatever talent you have to make the world a better place, as she portrays Osbon as a fun-loving dreamer.
I'd like to think the world is more than just getting up in the morning, making a cup of coffee, going to work, coming home, kissing your wife good-night, and going to bed, he says.
Osbon lives with his wife of six years, Connye, and a menagerie of animals near Savannah, Georgia. He also has a crash pad near JFK in New York's Ozone Park.
Osbon received his Bachelor's of Science in Aeronautical Physics and all of his flight ratings from Hawthorne College and Carnegie Mellon University. He's flown over 35 different types of airplanes in general aviation and began flying with JetBlue soon after its inception in 2000.
His flight Tuesday will likely be his last.
Tamara Young, a spokesperson for JetBlue, told IBTimes in an emailed statement that the captain became ill and was transported to a local medical facility for a checkup.
The CEO of JetBlue said Wednesday that he has known the captain for a long time and called him a consummate professional.
What happened at altitude is we had a medical situation, Barger told NBC's Today Show, adding, it became a security situation.
Barger said the captain is currently receiving medical care and is under the custody of the FBI.
Mental Health in the Airline Industry
The FAA is reviewing the captain's medical certificate, essentially a good housekeeping seal of approval that the pilot is healthy. All pilots working on commercial airlines must have an unblemished medical certificate that is renewed each year if the pilot is under 40 and every six months if older.
To obtain the certificate, the pilot must undergo a physical examination by an FAA-designated medical professional that includes questions about the pilot's psychological condition. Pilots are required by law to disclose any existing physical or psychological conditions and any medications they are on.
This is not the first time a pilot has had a medical issue in mid-air. In 2008, an Air Canada co-pilot had a mental breakdown on a flight from Toronto to London. He was forcibly removed from the cockpit, restrained, and sedated.
There have also been several cases involving flight attendants like the one just two weeks ago on American Airlines. In the March 9 incident, the flight attendant screamed don't blame me if we crash and raged about 9/11 over the intercom in a pre-flight safety briefing.
Perhaps the most famous incident occurred in August, 2010 when another JetBlue employee, flight attendant Steven Slater, ranted over the intercom while the plane taxied at JFK airport. After his tirade, Slater grabbed a beer, activated the emergency exit slide, and jumped out. He was later arrested and charged in the incident.
View eyewitness accounts of the drama on JetBlue Flight 191 below:
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...