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Pilot has meltdown aboard flight from JFK to Vegas

Officials remove baggage from JetBlue flight 191 and begin searching for explosives at Amarillo Rick Husband International Airport in Amarillo, Texas, Tuesday, March 27, 2012 after an unruly pilot caused the flight to make an emergency landing. A JetBlue flight bound for Las Vegas landed unexpectedly in Texas on Tuesday after the captain was taken ill, the airline said. A passenger said a man she and other passengers believed was the captain began yelling about a bomb and had to be restrained. (AP Photo/The Amarillo Globe News, Michael Schumacher)
AP Photo/The Amarillo Globe News
By Joe Anuta

A JetBlue flight leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport for Las Vegas Tuesday had to be rerouted to Texas after eyewitness accounts and video evidence revealed the captain had to be restrained in the aisle by his own crew and passengers.

A JetBlue spokeswoman would only confirm that “the pilot in command elected to divert to Amarillo, Texas, for a medical situation involving the captain.”

The plane took off from JFK at 7:38 a.m., but was diverted to Texas at about 10 a.m., JetBlue said.

Passengers on the plane said a man acting erratically ran up to the locked cockpit door and began banging on it and saying, “We’ve got to get this plane down.”

Two flight crew members began trying to subdue the man, who passengers later found out was the captain of the flight, while an off-duty captain hopped into the cockpit and helped land the plane safely.

In footage captured by a passenger’s camera, a group of large men can be seen at the front of the plane, where eyewitnesses said they rushed to assist crew members trying to subdue the pilot.

Law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, met the plane at the gate and took the pilot into custody.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by email at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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