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AirTran Pilot Arrested!!

livintheredream

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8:01 PM EDT, July 15, 2009
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The captain of an AirTran flight out of Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport was removed from the controls Wednesday and taken into custody by local police.

An AirTran spokesman confirmed that the captain was arrested but declined to elaborate on what prompted local police officers to lead the pilot away from the Boeing 717 in handcuffs.

It's unclear who arrested the captain because Newport News officers were not involved. Airport officials and airport police declined to comment on the incident, would not identify the pilot or say what led to an arrest at the gate that left delayed passengers spooked.

"We're aware of the incident," said Christopher White, an AirTran spokesman at the company's corporate offices in Atlanta. "We brought in another captain to pilot the plane to Boston."

Newport News City Jail records, however, show that a 6-foot-4-inch 230-pound AirTran pilot was taken into custody at 7:18 a.m. Wednesday and charged with assault and battery. The pilot is identified in jail paperwork as Michael Wayne Karnath of Beaufort, South Carolina, a 57-year-old who was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1995 after 22 years of service.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration released a statement saying the captain was involved in some kind of confrontation with a screener at a security checkpoint.

"TSA is aware of an incident that occurred at a checkpoint this morning with an AirTran employee and will work closely with local law enforcement during their investigation. TSA's workforce is comprised of security professionals who work to ensure the safety of air travel. To protect the safety of our officers, threats, verbal abuse, or violence of any kind are not tolerated," according to an e-mailed statement from Lauren Gaches, an agency spokeswoman.

The Transportation Security Administration screens passengers and baggage headed for airplanes and responds to terrorist threats but is not involved in traditional law enforcement, Gaches said.

Repeated calls to airport officials were not returned throughout the day Wednesday after the early-morning brouhaha.

The official who answered a cell phone number — Deputy Airport Director Mark Falin — said the airport would not make an official comment. He directed inquiries to AirTran.

The unified silence from airport officials leaves a significant gap in the information regarding safety and security at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, because airport officials refused to discuss who arrested the captain and whether the pilot was charged with any crimes.

White said passengers had already boarded the airplane bound for Boston when the pilot was confronted by law enforcement officers, but the flight never left. A Boeing 717 can hold 117 passengers, not including the crew, and passengers had to endure a nearly three-hour delay at the airport. White said the passengers were removed from the plane when it became clear that the flight faced a significant wait.

Flight 238 was scheduled to depart the Virginia Peninsula at 7 a.m. Wednesday and touch down at Logan International Airport in Boston at 8:24 a.m.. But the plane didn't depart northbound until 9:49 a.m., according to AirTran's Web site. The plane safely touched down in Boston at 11:19 a.m.

White said the delay was extended because the Newport News airport is not a major hub for air traffic and the flight was due to take off during early-morning hours.

"We're required to have a two-person flight crew," he said.

White would not identify the pilot and said he was unaware if the captain had caused any previous problems on the job.

"It's premature to talk about any disciplinary action," White said.

Newport News police spokeswoman Holly McPherson said the department did not take the captain into custody.

"We didn't make any arrests," McPherson said. "We had no involvement."
 

vixin

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Thats why I dont say one word to the TSA idiots. I show my badge and move on. Security professionals...my hairy butt.
 

Colonel Savage

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Guess we'll see what ALPA does with this one.
 

Mach 80

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Why is it taking so long to get a system in place so pilots can bypass security?? It's been long enough to "study" the various programs. It's nuts that pilots, some who had secret military clearances, and all of us who are flying hundreds of people a day, who are going to be IN the cockpit, AT the controls, have to be searched for scissors. It's waste of time for the pilots, a waste of resources for the TSA, and a waste of time for the passengers who have to endure crews cutting in front of them and then wait for crews to get screened. It's absurd and it past time to get it done.

Meanwhile, Barney Fife from Mayberry shows a badge and gets through.

ALPA, APA, SWAPA, CAPA and whoever else need to join forces and tell the TSA that it's been long enough.
 

SLOTH

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Not only that, but the Captain is the Security Coordinator for that flight!
 

Fubijaakr

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Enough
Agreed. Nothing good can come from a confrontation with a "Tub Stacking Agency" person.
 

IAHERJ

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hmmm?
Worst experiences I've had with the TSA have been at small Southern airports like the one in question. Small male anatomy syndrome combined with a nice little badge and you get a total prick with an ax to grind with somebody who has made a career for him/her self.....
 

DonVerita

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Wasn't a US Airways pilot arrested a couple years ago in PHL at a TSA checkpoint? Or how about the American pilot flipping the finger in Brazil I think it was? Point is, professional pilots can only take so much from rent-a-cop wannabes before they hit their threshold for B.S.
 

~~~^~~~

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What I don't understand is the locals did not charge the pilot and the TSA can't charge the pilot, so who made the arrest and where and how was the alleged assailant taken into custody? This does not pass the sniff test.
 

skiandsurf

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Many years ago, I got a ticket from the airport cop (ORD) with pax onboard.

I brought a jumpseater out to the plane prior to boarding and the gate agent had a fit, and called the cops. I tried explaining that he was a crewmember....still got the ticket. Chief pilot took care of it and had it dropped.

Theres just something at the airports that bring out the egos...whether its the TSA, the gate agent, the cop, and even the pilot.

Just smile and be nice to all airport employees. No need to argue with anyone, its NOT worth losing your job.
 

Captain Jeff

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Just smile and be nice to all airport employees. No need to argue with anyone, its NOT worth losing your job.


That is why this industry sucks so bad..... The just shut up and take it mentality. Try standing up for your self sometime.
 

Paul R. Smith

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That is why this industry sucks so bad..... The just shut up and take it mentality. Try standing up for your self sometime.

Agreed.
A little intestinal fortitude is what is needed. We don't need the "tow the line" defeatist mentality anymore.
 

Caveman

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Beaufort resident. 22 years USMC. Airline Captain. My guess is they arrested a retired Marine LtCol fighter pilot for some sort of alleged assault. BS! Never happened. There is no way a person of that background would ever lose their cool over something as petty as the TSA. I agree with everybody else. It was some Barney Fife with a chip on his shoulder. What a bunch of crap.
 

UnstableAviator

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That is why this industry sucks so bad..... The just shut up and take it mentality. Try standing up for your self sometime.


Got it....let us know when your behavior is changed when someone disagrees and stands up to you.

Arguments do nothing but strengthen the resolve of both participants.
 

b707guy

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Why is it taking so long to get a system in place so pilots can bypass security??

Thank Calloway of Fed Ex and Burke of PSA for being the 1 (or I guess 2?) in 1,000,000 jackasses who ruin it for the rest of us. Unfortunately, that's all it takes.
 

svcta

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SOLO!
Theres just something at the airports that bring out the egos...whether its the TSA, the gate agent, the cop, and even the pilot.

I don't really know about the last group in the list, but I believe that the rest on that list all think that they could do our jobs and think that they work harder and should make as much money as us.

I grew up in an airline family and will never forget some of the horrible experiences my mother and sister and I had trying to get somewhere at the hands of a gate agent. More than once my mother was brought to tears by the nastiness of one of those gate hags who hated the fact that Dad had a great job.

At the end of the day there are fewer of us than them and our job is a little more conspicuous than the rest, we are perceived to work the least and make the most and people never walk up to a gate agent and say "I've always wanted to do that...what a cool job. Tell me about Sabre."
 
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