Unruly Airline Passenger Invokes Gilligan’s Island, Faces Charges


With security tensions at a post-9/11 high since Christmas Day’s attempted airline attack, the news media is all over any hint of a disturbance in the air like a fly on… um, honey. The latest story involves a CNN report of a 56-year-old Oregon man, Joseph Hedlund Johnson, charged with “interference with the performance and duties of a flight crew member or attendant” on a plane to Hawaii.

Allegedly, Johnson became angry when he could not store a bag under an exit row seat, and responded by giving a card to the flight attendant, who passed it on to the captain, containing bizarre references to the 1960s show Gilligan’s Island. CNN reports:

About 45 minutes into the flight, Johnson gave a comment card in a sealed envelope to a flight attendant, who opened it, read it and gave it to the lead flight attendant, who then gave it to the captain, it said.

“I thought I was going to die, we were so high up,” the card said. “I thought to myself: I hope we don’t crash and burn or worse yet landing in the ocean, living through it, only to be eaten by sharks, or worse yet, end up on some place like Gilligan’s Island, stranded, or worse yet, be eaten by a tribe of headhunters, speaking of headhunters, why do they just eat outsiders, and not the family members? Strange … and what if the plane ripped apart in mid-flight and we plumited (sic) to earth, landed on Gilligan’s Island and then lived through it, and the only woman there was Mrs. Thurston Howell III? No Mary Anne (my favorite) no Ginger, just Lovey! If it were just her, I think I’d opt for the sharks, maybe the headhunters.”

Passengers were told there was a mechanical problem and the flight was rerouted back to Portland.

“Johnson stated that he didn’t think anyone would open it during the flight,” the affidavit added. “He told me that he thought the card was going to be taken back to an office somewhere, opened, and everyone in the room would ‘get a laugh’ from it, and that perhaps he’d even get some frequent flyer miles out of it. Johnson stated he didn’t intend to scare anyone and he would not have written his name on the card if it was a threat. Johnson stated that he felt bad about what had happened and that he was sorry.”

Bizarre, to be sure, and terrifying at a time of such airline fears, but the media willingness to now consistently cover every incident over 10,000 feet makes one wonder if this happens all the time and merely goes unreported except at times of heightened interest.

Passenger in Oregon to Hawaii air incident faces charges [CNN]

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