F-16s Escort Compass Airlines Plane Into LAX Over Unruly Passenger

F-16s accompany Compass Airlines passenger plane

Two F-16s were called in when a passenger on a Compass Airlines plane — flying from San Antonio, Texas to Los Angeles — allegedly threatened the flight crew.

According to officials, the Delta owned Compass Airlines flight, ended up making an emergency landing under escort by the F-16s at Tucson International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

The plane landed in Tucson shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday and was met by a group of law enforcement officers, comprising Tucson Airport Police, Border Patrol and the FBI. One passenger, a male, was taken off the plane.

Capt. Scott Bader of the Tucson Airport Authority police department said the man removed from the plane had been turned over to the FBI, adding there were no injuries suffered during the incident.

Jessie Butler, spokeswoman for Tucson Airport authority said the following in a statement.

“One suspect has been detained. This diversion was caused because there was a report of interference with the flight crew.”

As reported by the Washington Times, Butler continued by saying the aircraft was then deemed safe, adding there were 80 passengers on board. She went on to say the passengers would be taken from the plane and re-screened before re-boarding the flight to continue on to Los Angeles.

At the time of the in-flight incident, one of the passengers, Ryan Healy tweeted live that the unruly passenger was refusing to sit down during the flight was was acting “uncooperative.”

“The guy appears to be having some sort of breakdown. Passengers trying to help now.”

Healy kept up a Twitter report of the incident as matters continued, saying he believed the man was having “some sort of breakdown” and was “not cooperating,” but said other passengers did try to help the man.

At some stage a dog was brought onto the plane.

While not much was said about the incident on the plane in the media and what actually happened, Healy tweeted a video showing officers ordering a man off the plane. At the time of posting the tweet, Healy mentioned that the flight crew were handling matters well.

In the video footage, an older man seated with the passenger stood up from his seat and told officers he was the younger man’s guardian.

Other passengers on the plane took to Twitter, with several tweeting the plane was escorted into Tucson by two military F-16 jets. The passengers took photos of the jets standing on the tarmac.

Capt. Bader said the two F-16s were sent at the request of the “federal government” to intercept the Compass Airlines plane. Both planes are with the 162nd Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard and are reportedly stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

According a report by Tucson.com, Bader said this was the first time in his 10 years of working at the airport that military aircraft had been sent in to intercept a civilian airplane over an in-flight incident.

Related to the story, Healy headed to Twitter again after receiving a bizarre Twitter message from a TV journalist thanking him for not shooting the video in vertical format.

[Photo via Flickr by Alan Wilson, resized/CC BY-SA 2.0]