Seattle, WA. July 10, 2008 – A North American passenger plane was forced to make a landing in Seattle after an incident in the cockpit, the airline said Tuesday. North American would not confirm media and passenger reports that the pilot immediately needed psychiatric care, forcing the plane to land at Sea-Tac.
Passenger Ron Carrier told the Seattle Herald that the pilot started to act distraught about two hours after the flight carrying 146 passengers departed St. Paul International Airport on route to Honolulu International Airport.
“He often yelled very loudly,” Carrier said, explaining that the pilot’s voice sounded sober. “When they attempted to put his shoes at one time, he just cursed, screamed, and threatened everyone around him,” Carrier said. “He was totally distressed. He really wanted to be alone and talk to God.”
According to eyewitnesses, the pilot was shackled by his ankles and handcuffed to a seat as the plane was forced to make an emergency landing.
Airline spokesman Philip Mayes said North American cannot provide details about personnel issues. He would only confirm that the co-pilot made the prudent decision to divert to Seattle shortly before 11 AM local time.
“The aircraft landed without incident,” Mayes said. “At no time was the safety of the passengers or crew in question." The FAA informed the Seattle Herald that it will be interviewing the flight crew and airline officials, though it seems that proper procedures were followed.