StoriesFrom Dave Kocher,

My story took place in the cabin of a B727.

We were flying non-stop MIA to MSP. The Captain was Ernie West and the co-pilot was Wesley Schlough. We were passing over ATL when the lead FA, Lovie Offerle, rang the emergency call button. I went to the back and saw that a passenger had smacked his seat-mate in the face. When I confronted him, he said the man was going to take over the airplane. I quickly made up some inane story that the Captain was aware of this and we will be ready to descend shortly. I also told him to take his seat and fasten his seat belt.

When I turned back to ask Lovie more about him, he hit the back of the lady’s head in front of him. At that time the lady’s husband hurled himself over the back of the seat and started pounding on him. I could hear voices in the cabin shouting, “Kill the SOB” as the fathers changed seats with their families so they could be near the aisle. This is the point where simulator training had no answers. You had to rely on your “street smarts” The situation reminded me of third period study hall at Flint Northern HS where I taught school in 1963. I quickly grabbed him around the neck and we fell into the aisle with me on top. Fortunately, a rather large passenger was asking if he could talk to him and calm him down. In the meantime, I went back to the cockpit to talk over a plan of action. We were thinking of landing in ATL, but the calming effect of this [assisting] gentleman was obvious. We were starting our descent into MSP when he once again became agitated. At that point we grabbed a galley curtain and wrapped it around his seat to hold him in place. This is before we had plastic handcuffs. A pilot, who was deadheading, held him tightly until we landed. The passengers stayed seated while the airport police carried him off. After filling out the reports I went home to wash the blood out of my shirt.

I always wondered if I could collect hazardous duty pay.


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