He’s been called a “reluctant hero” but it was co-pilot Jason Dowd’s steady hands and calm wits that landed the JetBlue flight 191, to Nevada, after Captain Clayton Osbon (49) went on a religious tirade and lost control of his senses.
On Wednesday, after the catastrophe which saw Irish American Dowd land the passenger plane safely, in Amarillo, Texas, Osbon faces up to 20 years in prison having been charged with “interfering with the flight crew”.
The New York Daily News reports that if it had not been for Dowd’s calm thinking there’s no knowing what could have happened on board that flight.
Osbon turned off the radios in the cockpit of the plane and began to dim the monitors. He then ranted about September 11th and yelled ominous instructions in the cabin of the plane, carrying 131 passengers and six cabin crew.
Dowd, a 41-year-old Kent State University graduate, saved the day by asking Osbon to leave the cockpit before locking the door after him and landing the plane.
According to the criminal charges filed against Osbon he yelled comments about Jesus, September 11th, Iraq, Iran and terrorist. It states “He also yelled, 'Guys, push it to full throttle.'"
The brave co-pilot’s mom Jean said “I know he was terrified.
“He didn't know what was going on. He had to use his brain.”
The passengers quickly realized that Osbon was out of control and held him down in the aisle as they landed.
Lewis Dowd, the co-pilot’s father, said “It had to be a pretty upsetting thing. When you go against the captain, that’s almost like mutiny on a boat. It took a lot of guts.”
This scare comes a decade after the Dowd family lost their daughter Cindy. Lewis said “We figure that Cindy was with Jason helping him out.”
Dowd telephoned his parents shortly after he landed at Amarillo, Texas. His mother said “He didn't want to say anything against the pilot (Osbon). I was very scared. I am just glad he is on the ground and safe.”
Lewis spoke of the pride he felt knowing his son was safe, watching the footage of the plane land. He said “He was landing that plane under all that pressure, and still it was smooth as could be.”
Speaking with ABC News Jean said “We are very proud. But that was the job he was paid to do. And we are always proud of him. We have been proud of him his whole life."
An FBI affidavit accompanied the charges brought against Osbon on Wednesday. It gives a fresh view of what happened in the cockpit.
It states “Osbon began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent.” It continued "The [first officer] became concerned when Osbon said 'things just don't matter.'
"Osbon yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet."
The co-pilot became really anxious when Osbon said "We need to take a leap of faith," "We're not going to Vegas," and "began giving what the FO described as a sermon."
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) called the incident a “medical emergency”.
JetBlue spokeswoman Tamara Young said “As of now, he's been taken off all active duties and responsibilities pending further investigation."
Osbon was taken off the plane in handcuffs and a wheelchair by Amarillo police. He is now in FBI custody.
Here’s an AP report on Jason Dowd and a passenger who stepped in:
Here’s an International Business News report on some YouTube footage of the incident: