Sunday, December 6, 2009

11 Muslims on Air Trans Flt 297 Update 2

I always love it when my readers comment. I especially like the ones who don't post a name/moniker. It always gives me confidence. As you may remember I posted this on 12/2:

The following was sent to me by wtucker111 who is an intrepid emailer and active opponent of all policies Obama.

I have called two people to check on it. One has had their name and information removed because they have no direct involvement. I have left a message on Hackemack's voice mail requesting a call back. The message on the machine said that he wasn't answering because of the volume but said the description of what happened is accurate.


"From: Petruna, Tedd J. (I have deleted employer's name.)

One week ago, I went to Ohio on business and to see my father. On Tuesday, November the 17th, I returned home. If you read the papers the 18th you may have seen a blurb where a AirTran flight was cancelled from Atlanta to Houston due to a man who refused to get off of his cell phone before takeoff. It was on Fox.

This was NOT what happened.

I was in 1st class coming home. 11 Muslim men got on the plane in full attire. 2 sat in 1st class and the rest peppered themselves throughout the plane all the way to the back. As the plane taxied to the runway the stewardesses gave the safety spiel we are all so familiar with. At that time, one of the men got on his cell and called one of his companions in the back and proceeded to talk on the phone in Arabic very loudly and very aggressively. This took the 1st stewardess out of the picture for she repeatedly told the man that cell phones were not permitted at the time. He ignored her as if she was not there.

The 2nd man who answered the phone did the same and this took out the 2nd stewardess. In the back of the plane at this time, 2 younger Muslims, one in the back, isle, and one in front of him, window, began to show footage of a porno they had taped the night before, and were very loud about it. Now….they are only permitted to do this prior to Jihad. If a Muslim man goes into a strip club, he has to view the woman via mirror with his back to her. (don’t ask me….I don’t make the rules, but I’ve studied) The 3rd stewardess informed them that they were not to have electronic devices on at this time. To which one of the men said “shut up infidel dog!” She went to take the camcorder and he began to scream in her face in Arabic. At that exact moment, all 11 of them got up and started to walk the cabin. This is where I had had enough! I got up and started to the back where I heard a voice behind me from another Texan twice my size say “I got your back.” I grabbed the man who had been on the phone by the arm and said “you WILL go sit down or you Will be thrown from this plane!” As I “led” him around me to take his seat, the fellow Texan grabbed him by the back of his neck and his waist and headed out with him. I then grabbed the 2nd man and said, “You WILL do the same!” He protested but adrenaline was flowing now and he was going to go. As I escorted him forward the plane doors open and 3 TSA agents and 4 police officers entered. Me and my new Texan friend were told to cease and desist for they had this under control. I was happy to oblige actually. There was some commotion in the back, but within moments, all 11 were escorted off the plane. They then unloaded their luggage.

We talked about the occurrence and were in disbelief that it had happen, when suddenly, the door open again and on walked all 11!! Stone faced, eyes front and robotic (the only way I can describe it). The stewardess from the back had been in tears and when she saw this, she was having NONE of it! Being that I was up front, I heard and saw the whole ordeal. She told the TSA agent there was NO WAY she was staying on the plane with these men. The agent told her they had searched them and were going to go through their luggage with a fine tooth comb and that they were allowed to proceed to Houston. The captain and co-captain came out and told the agent “we and our crew will not fly this plane!” After a word or two, the entire crew, luggage in tow, left the plane. 5 minutes later, the cabin door opened again and a whole new crew walked on.

Again…..this is where I had had enough!!! I got up and asked “What the hell is going on!?!?” I was told to take my seat. They were sorry for the delay and I would be home shortly. I said “I’m getting off this plane”. The stewardess sternly told me that she could not allow me to get off. (now I’m mad!) I said “I am a grown man who bought this ticket, who’s time is mine with a family at home and I am going through that door, or I’m going through that door with you under my arm!! But I am going through that door!!” And I heard a voice behind me say “so am I”. Then everyone behind us started to get up and say the same. Within 2 minutes, I was walking off that plane where I was met with more agents who asked me to write a statement. I had 5 hours to kill at this point so why the hell not. Due to the amount of people who got off that flight, it was cancelled. I was supposed to be in Houston at 6pm. I got here at 12:30am."

Link to post on 12-2.

Now the email was one that had been forwarded several times. So as I noted later, I spoke with one person via phone, left another one a message and swapped emails.

The nut of the matter is that Gene Hackemack got back to me via email so I did an update.

(Hackemack's reply)My emails are now running into the thousands each day, which is actually a very good sign, but it also now prevents me from answering each one personally – a 24 hour job for the last 3 days! Let me assure you that the events on AirTran Flight 297 did occur. Mr. Petruna almost got fired from his job, so he is no longer available, however, now other eye-witnesses are also stepping forth, such as Chaplain Dr. Keith Robinson who was on that same flight. His appearance on Fox News adds the validity that this event it deserves.

You can go to www.google.com now and type in either Chaplain Dr. Keith Robinson or Petruna or Hackemack (or all three) and find the information that you might be searching for when you sent me this email.

Thank you again for your email and rest assured that these events that you are checking validity to – did indeed occur. – Gene

Link to Update

Okay, seems pretty straight forward. Now we come to the Anonymous reader who, unlike the people involved before...who gave names, addressess, phone numbers, business names, fax numbers.... gives nothing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should do another update that makes note that Petruna missed his earlier connection and wasn't even on the plane on which his amazing tale takes place.

Anon's Link

The link takes you to an Atlanta Jouurnal article in which, basically, Air Trans says Peturna could not have been on the flight and nothing happened.

"There are no reports of any passenger standing up in a threatening manner," according to the AirTran statement. "At no time was there any physical altercation between passengers."

According to AirTran, shortly after 4:40 p.m. on Nov. 17, Flight 297 bound for Houston taxied toward the runway of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. But before the Boeing 717 made it to the runway, the pilot decided to return the plane to the gate. A flight attendant had apparently asked a male passenger twice to put away a cellphone or camera, but the man had not done so. The flight attendant then took the device from the man.

Okay, just another day at the office. Flight attendant takes away a video camera, pilot, for no other reason, returns to gate. Yeah. Sure. But here's another account.

Keith Robinson didn't make it to the gate in time to board Flight 297 for its initial attempt to depart. Robinson, a Texas chaplain, said he watched as upset crew members and passengers poured back into the terminal after the incident on the plane.

"You could tell something was going on," Robinson told the AJC. Robinson said a passenger getting off the plane asked him whether he intended to get on the plane and fly to Houston.

"I'm a chaplain, that's where I'm supposed to be," Robinson said he told the man.

Robinson said the flight to Houston was a quiet one, giving him time to write down his account of what he had seen.

"The feeling that I have from what I observed is there was intentional intimidation," Robinson said. "It was almost an ethnic bullying situation."

Robinson recounted what he witnessed for reporters at KHOU-TV in Houston on Thursday. Petruna, however, told the station that he could not appear on camera.

In an e-mail to the AJC Saturday evening, Robinson said whether or not Petruna was on the flight, the incident aboard the plane caused fear among the flight's crew members.

As part of Hackemack's email, he referred me to Robinson. So I followed my nose and found this. As you read it, rememember this guy is a Chaplin. That doesn't prove anything, but it does give him, at least in my mind, better standing than an Air Tran PR person.

Robinson relates how he had missed boarding Flt 297 and was waiting for the next flght to Houston. And then:

While waiting at the distant gate, I noticed on the scheduling monitors that Flight 297 had returned to gate C‐16 and was scheduled to leave at 5:45PM. I hurried back to gate C‐16 in hopes of boarding my original flight after it strangely returned to the gate. Upon arriving at the gate I noticed that there was a look of solemn concern on the faces of the gate attendants. I asked if I could get on flight 297 when they returned to the gate. Their faces indicated a distinct level of stress that let everyone in the seating area knew that there was a problem on board. When I approached them a few moments later I said, “I am a Chaplain. Is there some way that I can be of help?” They said, “No.” Obviously, an event had occurred that they would not talk about.

Over the next thirty minutes officials from Air Tran started arriving at the gate, flashing their badges and going down to the plane. After 6‐7 officials exited the door, suddenly it flew open and 12‐15 people from the flight hurried off the plane. Anger and fear was etched on their faces as they jerked their carry‐on and tore into their computer bags to schedule another flight out of Atlanta.

Now that doesn't sound like a simple, give me your cellphone misunderstanbding.

One gentleman confronted the gate agent demanding his luggage be removed from the flight. As I spoke to him he related that when Flight 297 left the concourse the first time it began taxiing to take off when approximately 12 men of Middle Eastern appearance stood up and began dancing and singing in an Arabic dialect. They refused to be seated when directed to do so by the flight attendants. Then, the singing stopped and some of the men took out their cell phones and began taking pictures of the other individual passengers. Again, the men were ordered to be seated by the flight crew and refused while continuing to take their pictures. Next, the de‐boarded passenger related that a few of the men gestured with imaginary guns as their fingers, indicating with their triggering action that they would shoot the people on the plane.

The flight crew declared an emergency and the plane returned to the concourse. The 12men were taken to another area of the airport and questioned. It is my understanding that their luggage was removed and checked. Then, ten of the men were allowed to get back on the plane. That’s when the 12‐15 passengers decided that they wanted to get off that plane and take other flights. This ordeal had gone on approximately 2 hours to this point.

Now, what does the AJC article have to say?

At the gate, the passenger -- who didn't speak English -- and a companion were asked to leave the plane, which they did without incident, the airline reported.

When it was determined the problem was caused by a language barrier, AirTran and Transportation Security Administration officials allowed the man, and 12 others traveling with him, to reboard, and the flight left for Houston a little more than two hours later. Later, officials said the entire incident was the result of a miscommunication.

Nancy Deveikis was seated directly behind the unidentified man on the flight. She believes he spoke Spanish. Deveikis said the man was looking at pictures on a camera and did not understand the flight attendant's requests to turn the device off.

Now that is two descriptions of what happened that do not match. Could Ms Deveikis have missed 12 dancing men no matter what they spoke?

So who is the most accurate? Let's read more of what Robinson says.

With much concern I was allowed to go down the jet way to the plane. There I encountered a man claiming that he was from Homeland Security to assess the situation. I related to the Homeland Security man about the claims of the photos and the shooting hand gestures related by the first man to exit the plane and I told him that I was a Senior Chaplain familiar with Critical Incident Response and would wait to help him should the passengers need my help. He said, “Thanks.” The flight crew hurriedly walked past me leaving the plane with their baggage. The flight attendants were emotionally shaken, red faced, in tears and were sobbing. A new flight crew was ordered for the flight. All remaining passengers awaited their next crew, unsure of the ultimate destiny of this flight.

Now let me see. A single Flight Attendant demands a passenger give up his whatever... cellphone, camcorder.....he refuses and all of this happens?

Look. You kid you friends and I'll kid my friends but let's don't kid each other.

What else does Robinson say?

When I boarded the plane the air was tense and filled with emotion. Many of the passengers were obviously upset and at wits end. Often passengers would look back then forward to assess any change in the suspicious activities of the 10 hostile Middle Eastern passengers. Although my seat was 22D I moved to the back of the plane to gain a better view of any actions that might take place in front of me. Some of the Middle Eastern men were in the Business Class area and the remainder was seated in the back of the plane. They spoke only Arabic and I did not understand what they were saying although a strange burst of laughter would erupt as they spoke.

Link to Robinson's statement

Of couse the question as to Petruna's involvment remains.

To me, I don't care. But let's look at the AirTran claim:

There was no way Petruna could have seen what he described on Flight 297, AirTran said in a statement. Petruna departed from Akron-Canton, Ohio, on AirTran Flight 205 on Nov. 17, officials said. He was supposed to connect to Flight 297 for Houston, but he missed his first flight out of Ohio. And therefore, he missed the connecting flight.

AirTran said Flight 297 first left its gate at 4:40 p.m., "a full 26 minutes before Flight 205 arrived at the gate in Atlanta, making this flight connection impossible."

Now. That's all well and good. Maybe Petruna was just making his part up. But Robinson's description is clear and he isn't shy. And the only person to disagree with what Robinson says is Ms Deveikis.

AirTran could clear a lot of this up just by releasing the manifest of who was on the flight.

AirTran could ask the pilots, passengers themselves flying to Houston, what they saw.

Anyone willing to bet me a beer that will happen?

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