Las Vegas-bound JetBlue Flight 191 was diverted to Amarillo, Texas Tuesday after the pilot reportedly had a mental breakdown, telling passengers to say your prayers.
JetBlue spokesperson Tamara Young said in a statement emailed to IBTimes that a medical situation developed involving the captain, prompting the co-pilot to make an unscheduled landing at Amarillo's Rick Husband Airport. JetBlue says another pilot traveling off duty then entered the flight deck prior to landing at Amarillo and took over the duties of the ill crewmember.
The ill crewmember was then taken off the plane in a stretcher and transported to Northwest Texas Hospital for a check-up.
A federal government official told Dallas-Fort Worth CBS News that the incident began about two hours into the flight when the co-pilot became concerned. The official says the co-pilot convinced the captain to leave the cockpit and then locked him out.
The station reports that the captain exhibited odd behavior, randomly striking up conversations with the passengers on his way back to the cockpit. When he realized he was locked out of the cockpit, things reportedly spiraled out of control.
Several members on the flight, which originated in New York, took to Twitter and a few posted videos of the events (below).
Our pilot went nuts and we had to land in Amarillo, tweeted passenger Tiffany Lee. I saw my life flash before my eyes today.
Flight 191 had 135 passengers and five crew members when it departed New York's John F. Kennedy Airport at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The Amarillo Globe News reports that the pilot raced inside the airliner screaming obscenities and shouting about threats from al-Qaeda and bombs aboard the plane before half a dozen passengers pinned him to the floor.
One passenger told the local ABC News station that the pilot was foaming at the mouth and banging on the cockpit door. Another witness told Fox 5 News the pilot was in the cabin attempting to storm the cockpit.
I saw a guy wearing a pilot's uniform run down the aisle screaming and yelling and banging on the cockpit door to let him in, the witness said, adding the man was screaming, Say your prayers! Say your prayers!
Several witnesses claim that the flight attendants then got on the intercom and asked passengers to restrain him.
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.
The unnamed captain was described as about 6 feet 3 inches tall, stocky with short, cropped hair. The Amarillo Globe News reports that passengers handed over their belts to help restrain the captain after he broke free from a zip tie
The FBI and emergency crews were called into the airport and the affected passengers were scheduled to depart on another plane to continue their journey to Las Vegas.
Many Amarillo-based news outlets are reporting that several of the passengers were headed to an International Security Conference that will take place at Las Vegas' Sands Expo and Convention Center this Wednesday through Friday.
Federal officials say Tuesday morning's incident is being treated as a medical issue and not an act of terrorism.