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Air Tran Flight 297 Incident (event documentation by chaplain)
Musings of an Esposito ^ | 11-26-09 | Dr. Keith Robinson, Houston Regional Community Chaplain Corps

Posted on 12/04/2009 10:45:07 AM PST by STARWISE

Air Tran Airways Flight 297 was scheduled to leave Atlanta at 4:43PM in route to Houston Hobby Airport.

Because of my position as Corps Commander of the Houston Regional Community Chaplain Corps, I frequently wear my Chaplain jacket as I travel. Like some sort of heavenly magnet, the Chaplain jacket invites discussion with a wide variety of people who are struggling with issues in need of a comforting ear.

My connecting flight was late and the door to the jet way closed prior to my boarding. So, even though I was rescheduled on a much later flight far from C16 I settled down with a newspaper and only 1/4th of my remaining cell phone battery.

While waiting at the distant gate, I noticed on the scheduling monitors that Flight 297 had returned to gate C16 and was scheduled to leave at 5:45PM. I hurried back to gate C16 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 carryon and tore into their computer bags to schedule another flight out of Atlanta.

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 deboarded 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 12 men 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.

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.

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.

I struggled to see if these men were merely tragically toying with the emotions of the other American passengers or if they intended to do more. I calmed the new flight attendants and told them where I would be seated if they or any of the other passengers needed me.

I asked the flight attendant if she did or did not know whether we had an Air Marshal on the plane. She said that they were never told when one was on board. I prayed for the peace to handle whatever might happen on the flight but kept my eyes peeled forward for any suspicious movements.

One of the other passengers in mid-plane grew restless and began to show signs of rising agitation. He got up from his chair looked back and then to the front of the plane and paced back and forth between three to four rows.

I prayed that that he would not become violent with some of the men but then he quickly sat down and remained quiet until the end of the flight.

One hour into the flight thankfully nothing had happened.

The outer skin of Flight 297’s body must have radiated with prayers ascending into heaven from the passengers…and the one Chaplain at the back of the plane.

Each of the Middle Eastern men remained quiet but frequently went into the overhead compartments to retrieve what appeared to be electronic devices and other packages from their backpacks. I was thankful when the men in the back of the plane appeared to nod off into a harmless sleep.

One of the 10 men from Business Class came back to retrieve a box marked as a Mac Notebook. He brought it to the front of the plane and put it in third compartment on the left of the plane.

There must have been four or five airline pilots in uniform on board making connecting flights through Hobby Airport in Houston. One of the pilot passengers moved the Mac Notebook box to another overhead area without anyone observing the new distant hiding place for his package.

Rest @ link


TOPICS: Government; Politics; Society; Travel
KEYWORDS: airlinesecurity; airtran; airtranflight297; airtranflt297; dryrunquestion; flight297; muslimgroup; pcworld; terrorists
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Steve Gill spoke to Tedd Petruno, the passenger who wrote the original description of this event for an hour, and here interviews Dr. Keith Robinson, another AirTran passenger, about the AirTran Flt 297 events he learned:

Scroll down the podcast list to this to hear it, and go to the .. 3:35 .. mark:

Steve Gill - December 3, 2009 Hr 3
LIVE from the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center; D.

1 posted on 12/04/2009 10:45:09 AM PST by STARWISE
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To: penelopesire; seekthetruth; television is just wrong; jcsjcm; BP2; Pablo Mac; April Lexington; ...

~~Ping!


2 posted on 12/04/2009 10:47:22 AM PST by STARWISE (They (LIBS-STILL) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war- Richard Miniter)
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To: Quix

FYI


3 posted on 12/04/2009 10:52:15 AM PST by Blogger
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To: STARWISE

My method of dealing with these “passengers” would ensure that this type of disruption NEVER happens again.


4 posted on 12/04/2009 10:56:26 AM PST by cvq3842 (A fool and his liberty are soon parted.)
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To: STARWISE

Thanks for posting this. This is a BIG story that needs much more attention.

Forget about Tiger Woods and Obama’s latest bullcrap.

These Jihadis are getting ready to strike again!

I’m glad the folks on this plane are safe, but what about the next one?


5 posted on 12/04/2009 10:57:17 AM PST by Palladin (Holder and Obama terrorize New Yorkers.)
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To: STARWISE; Admin Moderator

Shouldn’t this be in NEWS?


6 posted on 12/04/2009 10:59:32 AM PST by Palladin (Holder and Obama terrorize New Yorkers.)
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To: Blogger

THANKS BIG


7 posted on 12/04/2009 10:59:47 AM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 TRAITORS http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: STARWISE

Too bad some of the passengers didn’t start throwing punches.


8 posted on 12/04/2009 10:59:58 AM PST by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: STARWISE
This gets wierder.

It would seem to me that these "middle eastern men" could have faced federal charges for interfering with a flight crew.

9 posted on 12/04/2009 11:02:16 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: ArrogantBustard

One would think.


10 posted on 12/04/2009 11:03:37 AM PST by brytlea (Jesus loves me, this I know.)
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To: ArrogantBustard

the same mentality that allowed Major Hasan to openly fantasize about cutting the throats of non muslims allowed those 10 men ot get back on that airplane

flying is a PRIVILEGE- not a right

why anyone remained on that airtran flight I cannot imagine...sheeple


11 posted on 12/04/2009 11:05:26 AM PST by silverleaf (More folks being invited to the White House for Holiday parties than are being sent to Afghanistan)
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To: cvq3842

That’s what they want. They want to provoke others to attack them violently, then accuse the attackers of violence against them merely because of their looks and language. If 12 New Yorkers got up and started singing in Yiddish and dancing in the aisles, what would we do? The activity has to be stopped because it disrupts the flight, but the activity is not concrete terrorist activity (it’s a psyops form of terrorism and they know it), so until a criminal offense for terrorist psyops is added to the code, one has to be careful in reacting.

They have us over a barrel. We are right to fear them as possible terrorists because people who look them have done terrorist things, but they want an overreaction from us so they can accuse us of profiling.

They are playing with us mentally, and they know that our ability to respond is hampered by political correctness. We have to be intelligent in handling it. It sounds to me like the air crew was.

Perhaps we need laws against psychological terrorism. But what a nightmare to create that sort of legislation without eliminating honest people’s freedom or creating a tool by which the Left can bludgeon us?


12 posted on 12/04/2009 11:05:30 AM PST by Houghton M.
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To: Houghton M.

Interesting points.


13 posted on 12/04/2009 11:07:57 AM PST by cvq3842 (A fool and his liberty are soon parted.)
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To: STARWISE

Chilling...


14 posted on 12/04/2009 11:08:50 AM PST by LUV W (Obama, the job-killer, has presided over the loss of 4.6 million jobs...and counting! RL)
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To: Houghton M.

A BIG BUMP for everyone flying this month:

News you NEED TO KNOW.


15 posted on 12/04/2009 11:09:06 AM PST by Palladin (Holder and Obama terrorize New Yorkers.)
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To: Houghton M.

It doesn’t take a lot of legislation

Just a number one rule by the airline.

You disobey the orders of a flight crew, you do not fly. Period. The end. Carry arabic flashcards and pictures to convey the rules if those bozos want to claim language barrier. Teach every airline crew to say in arabic: “No use of electronic devices. You must remain seated. Only one passenger at a time may enter the lavatory. No standing in the aisle.”

You don’t like those rules, don’t get on the plane. It’s a privilege. Not a right. Pilots could enforce it by refusing to fly. One time a union is a good thing.


16 posted on 12/04/2009 11:10:36 AM PST by silverleaf (More folks being invited to the White House for Holiday parties than are being sent to Afghanistan)
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To: Palladin

These Jihadis are getting ready to strike again!

~~~~

I feel it ... and our government is getting us ready
as their very policies pave the way for our enemies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Al-Qaeda a Threat in U.S. Says Napolitano
Written by Steven J. DuBord
Friday, 04 December 2009 00:11

Al Qaeda agents pose a threat to the United States and to U.S. interests abroad, and some are already here on American soil with the intent to attack various targets, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on December 2.

Napolitano gave this forthright assessment of the danger posed by al Qaeda one day after President Barack Obama announced his decision to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan and warned that agents have been “sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit more acts of terror.”

The Homeland Security Secretary made her remarks to the America-Israel Friendship League in New York, saying that a recent spate of domestic arrests related to terrorism should “remove any remaining comfort that some might have had from the notion that if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won’t have to fight them here.”

This goes against the line of reasoning put forth by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, who used it to justify the foreign wars he launched.

“The fact is that home-based terrorism is here. And like violent extremism abroad, it is now part of the threat picture that we must confront,” Napolitano declared.

“Individuals sympathetic to al Qaeda and its affiliates, as well as those inspired by their ideology, are present in the U.S., and would like to attack the homeland or plot overseas attacks against our interests abroad.”

Napolitano gave the example of Najibullah Zazi, an airport shuttle driver in Denver who was arrested in September after allegedly receiving al Qaeda training in Pakistan. Zazi allegedly tested homemade bombs like those used in the 2004 Madrid transit bombings and then drove from Denver to New York. He is facing charges of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction.

http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/crime/2469-al-qaeda-a-threat-in-us-says-napolitano

Lord, in Your abiding mercy, help us.. protect us.


17 posted on 12/04/2009 11:10:41 AM PST by STARWISE (They (LIBS-STILL) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war- Richard Miniter)
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To: silverleaf
why anyone remained on that airtran flight

No kidding ... I'm quite sure I would have told AirTran to GFT, and booked a flight on another airline.

18 posted on 12/04/2009 11:17:21 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Palladin; Jim Robinson; Admin Moderator

FR doesn’t allow wordpress or other blog site
items to be posted in news. Shame, as more and
more news is being covered and reported by real
folks in the “New Media” .. the great patriots
across this land .. because the lamestreams WON’T!.

This is what you get if you post a wordpress
article in News:

“Source is Blocked, article not posted
wordpress.com should be posted to the bloggers forum.”

Maybe the boss’ll think about reconsidering that
policy when appropriate, in light of our ‘changed’
world.


19 posted on 12/04/2009 11:26:08 AM PST by STARWISE (They (LIBS-STILL) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war- Richard Miniter)
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To: Palladin

I posted this on Wed. night in breaking news, with a link to the Steve Gill show, and for some reason, after sometime, it wasn’t to be found anymore.

I think that there still is a “gotcha” feeling to this, that it might be a hoax, therefore making people skittish.

I still wonder about this even though I listened to the Chaplain yesterday and I have read that he was on fox.

Looking at the Chaplain’s web site, he appears to be a very credible person.


20 posted on 12/04/2009 11:26:39 AM PST by machogirl (First they came for my tagline.)
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