US man accused in airliner disruption in court

An Oregon man who FBI agents say was angling for frequent flier miles has made his first court appearance on a charge of interfering with a commercial jetliner crew by filling out a comment card that talked about crashing into the ocean.

Federal authorities charged 56-year-old Joseph Hedlund Johnson of Salem after a Hawaiian Airlines jetliner turned back in mid-flight Wednesday to return to Portland accompanied by two F-15 military jets.

An FBI affidavit said the pilot said he was alarmed because Johnson wanted to be near his carryon luggage and filled out a comment card that wondered “what if the plane ripped apart in mid-flight”.

Johnson told an agent the card was intended as a joke and, because it was sealed, not to be read during the flight.

 

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