A passenger aboard a Boeing 737-800 aircraft operating as Continental Airlines flight CO 546 from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, TX to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) tried to open the front boarding door of the plane about 20 minutes after takeoff, on Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 12:25 p.m. CDT.
He allegedly shouted that he had to get off the plane because he was having a rough Mother’s Day, and was taken down by a flight attentant and two other passengers, including a former U.S. Army Ranger as reported by Reuters, ABC News, Fox News Houston, the Houston Chronicle, St. Louis Today, WGN-TV in Chicago, and other media sources on Monday, May 9, 2011.
The 34-year-old unnamed man was described as being tall and heavy set, and living in a Chicago suburb.
The pilot diverted the aircraft to Lambert St. Louis International Airport (STL), where it landed without further incident at 1:28 p.m. CDT. The passenger was removed by airport police and taken into custody for questioning by the FBI.
His belongings were said to contain no weapons or other objects of interest to law enforcement.
The aircraft then continued on to Chicago, where it landed at 3:24 p.m. CDT, a little more than one hour behind schedule, according to the FlightStats web site.
According to aviation experts, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to open the doors of a commercial aircraft during flight because pressurization and the mechanical structure of the doors function to keep them sealed. There have been other past reports of such unsuccessful attempts by passengers to open exit doors while a commercial flight was aloft.
It was the third incident involving a commercial flight on Sunday. In one of the other cases, Delta Air Lines flight DL 1706 from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) to San Diego International Airport (SAN) was diverted to Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) in New Mexico, after a suspicious note was found in a rear lavatory.
That flight was delayed by more that 6-1/2 hours, while investigators questioned passengers and searched their belongings.
Another alarming incident involved American Airlines flight AA 1561. In that situation, a Yemeni man, later identified as 28-year-old Rageit Almurisi, was tackled by crew members and placed in plastic handcuffs after he rushed the cockpit at 8:50 p.m. PDT, shouting and pounding on the locked flight deck door.
That aircraft, another Boeing 737-800 with 162 passengers, which was coming from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), landed safely minutes later at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) at 9:10 p.m. PDT. That passenger was also arrested and taken into custody, as seen in the attached slide show.
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