JetBlue Airlines Pilot Clayton Osbon gained national attention overnight for his strange behavior while manning an aircraft, but local residents say they were shocked and saddened when they learned of the news.
“It is sad to see that happen to someone,” local resident and writer Christine Lucas said. “I was happy that the gentlemen who restrained him were not inclined to attack him verbally. They were professionals and spoke as such when describing what happened.”
Lucas met Osbon in 2011 when she interviewed him for an article about his life as a pilot for Richmond Hill Reflections magazine. Though she only met with him twice, the behavior seen on television is not how she described him.
“I can only comment on how he was on our two meetings,” she said. “He was friendly (and) confident. He clearly loves flying.”
Osbon was restrained mid-flight Tuesday while manning JetBlue Airlines’ Flight 191 en route to Las Vegas after he reportedly began shouting about a bomb and threats from Iraq. An off-duty pilot helped the co-pilot land the plane safely in Amarillo, Texas, according to reports.
The airline later announced the incident was a “medical situation” involving the captain, Osbon, and that he was later hospitalized.
Another resident who also described Osbon as friendly is County Commissioner Carter Infinger, who said he lives down the street from Osbon. Infinger said he was shocked to learn of the events.
“I was shocked and concerned for him and his family,” Infinger said Tuesday. “You always want the best for everybody.”
Infinger said Osbon was a “really nice guy” who he occasionally would see at social gatherings and other events. He said he hasn’t known Osbon to have any “issues” and doesn’t know what may have caused him to behave the way he did mid-flight.
“We don’t know the whole story, we know what the news says, but you really don’t know exactly what happened,” Infinger said. “We won’t know for a while, but as far as I know he is a good guy and a solid citizen in our community.
“It’s a sad situation that happened,” he said. “I’ve never known him to have any issues and I’m concerned for him and his family. I hope and wish them the best.”
Lucas, too, said she had no idea what may have caused the situation, but noted the public should consider all angles.
“People need to remember that various circumstances can cause people to act out of character,” she said. “Flip comments about him don’t offer much to the soup. He’s a man with friends and a family.”
In addition to releasing a statement about the situation, the airline also took to its blog, Blue Tales, to answer what they claim are the top 10 questions they’ve gotten about the incident.
Questions about security issues, Osbon’s health and what could have happened if he had returned to the flight deck are addressed in the blog post at http://blog.jetblue.com/index.php/2012/03/28/flight-191-update.