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Ever Do A Little Brush-up Reading Enroute To A Job?


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Had seen lamanated's post in the maintenace forum and thought he must be overreacting, ...the feds couldn't be that paranoid? Then this in the NY Times :shock: ... (sorry 'bout the double post, relevant to the issue lamanated raised over there, but applicable to a wider audience here)

 

"May 7, 2006

 

5 on Plane Are Detained at Newark, but Later Freed

By MANNY FERNANDEZ and KAREEM FAHIM

 

Five men on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Newark set off a security alert and were detained yesterday after passengers and crew members said they were acting suspiciously and reading flight manuals, officials said.

 

But officials said they determined that the men posed no threat, and released them. At least four of the men were members of the Angolan military, one official said, and had just finished helicopter training in Texas.

 

After the plane landed safely at Newark Liberty International Airport at 3:15 p.m., the men were searched, handcuffed and taken into custody by police officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, the authorities and passengers said. The men were eventually interviewed by the F.B.I. and allowed to leave, officials said.

 

Flight 1874 left Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport around 11:15 a.m. with 121 passengers and 5 crew members.

 

Steve Siegel, a special agent with the F.B.I. in Newark, said that the five men were speaking in a foreign language — the official language of Angola is Portuguese — and switching seats, and that "between the passengers and the flight crew, there were some suspicions."

 

Two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the men also aroused concern because they were reading flight manuals.

 

One of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the incident, said the five men — four in the Angolan military, and the fifth an Israeli — had just completed helicopter training at a Bell Helicopter flight school in Texas.

 

The official said the men were talking among themselves, switching seats, holding manuals and sometimes making hand gestures.

 

Among the passengers were air marshals and an agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration. After the agents "made themselves known to each other," the official said, they separated, guarding the plane from different posts.

 

The D.E.A. agent positioned himself at the front of the plane, near the cockpit door, to head off any attack there. Meanwhile, the marshals sat where they could keep watch over the five men.

 

An air marshal on board notified authorities on the ground that there were five suspicious passengers aboard, said Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the Port Authority.

 

Some passengers interviewed last night said there was nothing suspicious about the men. The men acted like "a group of people traveling together who didn't get seats together," said Barbara O'Reilly, 66, a passenger from Tulsa, Okla. "I was really surprised" that they were taken into custody, she said.

 

Geri Inness, 59, a former flight attendant who was a passenger, said the men were singled out for no reason. "They looked shocked, like, 'What the **** is going on?' That was the expression they had on their faces," said Ms. Inness, who was returning from a trip to an artist colony in Mexico.

 

After the plane, an MD-80, landed in Newark, it taxied to a secure and remote area of the airport. Passengers said emergency vehicles surrounded the plane, and their luggage was placed on the tarmac. They said bomb-sniffing dogs screened their luggage as well as the plane after passengers exited the airliner. They were taken by bus to a terminal.

 

The men were released sometime before 5:30 p.m. One law enforcement official said they caught a connecting flight to Angola. They had no weapons, said Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines.

 

Madelyn Connolly, 85, a retired teacher from El Paso, said she was sitting next to one of the men in Row 9. The man, tall and muscular in a cap and a red jacket, talked with another man sitting across the aisle from him. After the plane landed, air marshals asked the man closest to her to go with them. She said he did so without protesting.

 

"They were not one bit suspicious," she said. "You wouldn't think a thing about them."

 

But Mr. Siegel, the F.B.I. special agent, said he did not fault those who reported the behavior.

 

"We would never second-guess anyone who sat through this," he said. "We'd rather people report their observations. That's exactly what happened here."

 

Janon Fisher, Nate Schweber and Matthew L. Wald contributed reporting for this article."

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Well, it is an unfortunate set of circumstances, but I can see how people's fears can get the worst of them.

 

Was on a flight from Chicago a year ago July when a man who appeared to be of Middle-Eastern descent was behaving in a peculiar manner. He was up and down to the restroom and just walking the center aisle numerous times throughout the flight.

 

At one point, he was carrying a folded-up baby diaper, but he was not traveling with any child. It caused a good number of sidelong glances between pax as he could've had anything concealed in that diaper. As the crew prepared for landing, he got out of his seat again and carried that folded diaper to the restroom. He was in there about 20 minutes, emerging only after the plane had landed. When he emerged, a flight attendant escorted him back to his seat and stayed right beside him as we taxied to the gate.

 

He was handcuffed and in the custody of TSA agents the second he got off the plane. Never heard anything else about the incident, but there were a couple of times when even I felt a li'l anxious/nervous on that flight. You can feel pretty darn vulnerable at 36,000 feet. And it's a shame to have to feel that way. <_<

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We have an "open society" here in the West and we all know that that is our major weak spot........and so do others wishing us harm. I'd rather err on the side of "ridiculous" based on that fact. Four to five days at present to have human ashes cross into Canada from the US and all because of Canadian Customs. Reason? Osama et al may have stashed explosive devices inside that urn with the ashes. Annoying and borderline ridiculous?.........you bet, but I'll suffer that inconvenience rather than have it the other way 'round. That's my humble opinion on such goings-on.

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Was on a flight from Chicago a year ago July when a man who appeared to be of Middle-Eastern descent was behaving in a peculiar manner. He was up and down to the restroom and just walking the center aisle numerous times throughout the flight.

 

Now for the real question TQN...

Would you have felt the same fear had the fellow not been of an apparent Middle-Eastern descent? Would he have been just another strange guy on the plane?

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ABSOLUTELY, Ryan. The guy could've had incontinence or IBS or whatever; that wasn't anyone's concern. It was the way in which he held and carried the folded diaper, that clearly had something in it. He carried it flat, in both hands, across his palms...like it was something precious or fragile. At another point, while walking the aisle aimlessly, he went to one of the exit doors and stood there examining it. Not looking out the door, but looking AT the door. The guy could've been ANY race or color and he would've raised suspicions. IMHO, anytime anyone acts so bizarre on an aircraft, they deserve what they get. I RESENT being made to feel unsafe and insecure. That is all.

 

(Except to say that I'm sure sorry Miss Ginny's remains have been caught up in post-911 red tape, Cap. Awful sorry about that. Downright shame, it is.)

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Fair enough, that's more than enough to freak anyone out regardless of who's doing it.

 

A few months ago at work we had an interesting moment. Everyone was boarded and about to hear the briefing before getting airborne.

At the last second a guy opened the door on the middle row and said he just remembered he had a meeting here in Victoria he had to make and couldn't go on the flight. It happens every now and then and doesn't really matter to use. So I removed his bag from the cargo hold and he got out. Just then the woman sitting beside him goes totally nuts! She starts freaking out asking why he's "really" getting off the flight, and what does he know that they don't about the safety of the flight.

Myself and the Captain try calming her down but she won't have it. She demands to be let off too because she doesn't trust that he hasn't planted anything onboard. And of course by saying that everyone on the flight panics, a few more adults start crying and everyone stampedes off the helicopter.

So I unloaded everything from the cargo hold to be identified by the passengers to show them there is nothing stowed away in hiding. When all the passenger's bags are accounted for, 2 are still on the pad. The lady who started it all points at them and screams," Well then who's f@$king bags are those huh!" I almost laughed out-loud saying they are the pilot's bags... hence the company logo and crew names in plain sight.

She then noticed the small box of cargo going on the flight, and again she yells and points. I explain what it is, and that almost every flight has cargo on it so not to worry. She looks at the box, and tells me to open it for inspection. Seeing as how it contained potentially infectious specimens destined for an HIV lab in Vancouver... I politely declined.

Finally everyone calmed down and the flight went on as normal, though a tad late. Some folks just see what they want to see, even when there is nothing there but their imagination.

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IMHO, anytime anyone acts so bizarre on an aircraft, they deserve what they get. I RESENT being made to feel unsafe and insecure. That is all.

 

What about the person with a legitimate mental illness who has a mishap with their meds..................is it right to bust a cap in his ***?

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Geez, that's an interesting story, Ryan. :huh: So, ahhhhhhhhm, just what kind of security measures are taken by heli operators to ensure the safety of pax when it comes to what is in bags and what is being transported? Any metal detection, dog sniffing or anything? Just curious; I never knew. :rolleyes:

 

Well, Rbird. I look at it this way: There's just not much room nor patience for shenanigans of ANY kind on planes these days, including medical/mental mishaps. Such folks would be quite wise to carry medical papers/bracelets, etc. that denote condition. Despite condition, they indeed should be subdued/restrained for their own protection and the safety of everyone else onboard until it can be determined what on earth is the problem. Don'tcha think? We may be citizens with inalienable rights, but when you're sharing cramped quarters with a bunch of strangers tens of thousands of feet in the air, certain rights are forfeited for the sake of safety---and rightly so. Whazza "cap in the ***" anyway? :)

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