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JetBlue Passenger Chokes Out Pilot

March 30, 2012

David Gonzalez boarded a plane to Las Vegas on Tuesday morning and managed to do something that very, very few people have ever done.

Gonzalez put the pilot in a choke hold while the aircraft was in midair.

But Gonzalez, of Henryville, Pa., said he had no other choice. The pilot was acting so erratically that the plane's crew asked for passengers' help to subdue him, the Pocono Record reported Thursday.

Gonzalez, a former New York City corrections officer, reflected on his experience aboard JetBlue Flight 191. He said he was happy no one got hurt and that he was trying to deal as best he could with being thrust overnight into the national media spotlight.

"It was a difficult time. But it was something I had to go through. I was just glad I was able to do it," Gonzalez, 50, said.

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Gonzalez, who moved to the Poconos from New York City 10 years ago with his family, said he put the captain of the flight, Clayton Osbon, into a "sleeper hold" after Osbon entered the cabin and started shouting about terrorists and al Qaeda while the plane was over Texas.

When Osbon started acting erratically, the copilot locked him out of the cockpit.

"He was acting real strange," according to Gonzalez, who works for a security firm and was heading to Las Vegas for a convention. "[Osbon] was saying things like, 'You gotta pray.'"

After Gonzalez put the choke hold on Osbon and wrestled him to the ground, others rushed to help, he said. The passengers and crew put plastic restraints on Osbon, but the pilot broke out of them. They then tied Osbon up with belts, but Gonzalez said more serious measures needed to be taken.

"What wound up really happening was I wound up personally sitting on the guy until we landed in Texas," according to Gonzalez, who is about six-foot-four and weighs about 300 pounds.

After the flight landed in Amarillo, Texas, Gonzalez said people on board wanted to take pictures with him and wanted to buy him beers. "But I don't drink," he said.

Osbon was charged Wednesday by federal authorities with knowingly interfering with the flight crew of Flight 191. He is undergoing medical evaluations and is in FBI custody.

"I'm just glad no one got hurt," Gonzalez said.

Read the article here or click on the image to watch the video.