Feds: JetBlue pilot charged

A JetBlue pilot from Georgia faces a federal charge of interference with a flight crew after telling his colleagues “things just don’t matter” and leaving the cockpit mid-flight.

Clayton Frederick Osbon, 49, of Richmond Hill, on Tuesday was assigned to JetBlue Flight No. 191 from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to Las Vegas. However, according to federal authorities, Osbon was late arriving to JFK and missed a crew briefing.

According to an FBI news release:

As the plane was leaving JFK and climbing in altitude in its scheduled five-hour flight, Osbon said something to the first officer (FO) about being evaluated by someone, but the FO did not know what he meant. Osbon then talked about his church and the need to “focus” and asked the FO to take the controls and work the radios. Osbon began talking about religion, but, according to the FO, his statements were not coherent.

The affidavit goes on to say that the FO became concerned when Osbon said “things just don’t matter.” According to the FO, Osbon yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet. Osbon turned off the radios in the aircraft, dimmed his monitors, and sternly admonished the FO for trying to talk on the radio. When Osbon said “we need to take a leap of faith,” the FO stated that he became very worried. Osbon told the FO that “we’re not going to Vegas” and began giving what the FO described as a sermon.

Osbon left the cockpit and went to the forward lavatory. A flight attendant brought an off-duty captain to the cockpit; the off duty pilot assisted the first officer for the rest of the flight.

After the first officer declared an emergency, the flight was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.

If convicted, Osbon, who remains at Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the FBI.

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