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What brave passengers!

post #1 of 7
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BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- A commercial flight from Paris, France, to Miami, Florida, made an emergency landing in Boston on Saturday after a passenger attempted to light what may have been some sort of explosive in his shoes, authorities said.

The incident on American Airlines flight 63 began around 11 a.m. EST, officials said. The plane was more than two hours from Boston when the incident occurred, an airlines spokesman told The Associated Press.

"We're told the flight attendants became alerted to a smell of sulfur, which is a match, and immediately took action when they saw what this individual was attempting to do, and literally tackled the individual and got into a wrestling match in attempt to subdue and stop this action, and apparently were successful in doing that, thankfully," said Tom Kinton, aviation director of Logan International Airport.

During the struggle, "he said he was 'wired,'" said Kinton.

'He tried to light up his matches to put his own shoe on fire and explode," said Thierry Dugeon, a French passenger. A flight attendant screamed for help and the nearest passengers grabbed him and put him under control.

"He was struggling," Dugeon said. "He was real powerful, but there were five or six of us."

After passengers and flight attendants subdued the man, two doctors on board sedated him, Kinton said. He was then strapped to a chair with belts.

During the melee, two flight attendants were injured -- one of them bitten by the man -- said a spokeswoman for Massport, the organization that operates the airport. The flight attendant was taken to a hospital, she said.

Alerted by the pilot, the North American Aerospace Defense Command dispatched two F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air Force base in Massachusetts, which escorted it to Logan, a NORAD spokesman said. The F-15s intercepted the commercial jetliner "as soon as it hit American airspace," an official said.

The Boeing 767, carrying 185 passengers and 12 crew members, landed safely at Logan at 12:50 p.m. EST. It was moved to a remote area of the runway. The man was detained by police.

"FBI Boston has one person in custody at this time for interference with a flight crew," said FBI spokeswoman Kimberly McAllister. FBI agents, Federal Aviation Administration officials and police from Massport are investigating the incident.

The man, about 28, was carrying a British passport that appeared to have been issued about three weeks ago in Belgium in the name of Richard Reid, Kinton said. "The passport of the individual was checked and appears to have several problems with it," he said.

Another official said the passport appeared "bogus" and that the man appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent.

The man was traveling alone and without checked luggage, Kinton said. Federal officials said he did have a carry-on bag. Once he was removed from the airplane, his shoes were X-rayed aboard the plane by a bomb squad.

"It appears that the shoes did contain det [detonation] cord and some improvised explosives, C-4 in nature," Kinton said. "If this indeed is an improvised explosive, there is certainly enough there to do damage to an aircraft in flight."

The explosive C-4 was used by terrorists in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, in which 19 U.S. service members were killed. Normally, the explosive is detonated by some kind of blasting cap, but one security expert said it could explode if a detonator was heated.

Federal authorities had not confirmed the presence of explosives Saturday evening.

American Airlines flight 63 on the ground at Logan International Airport in Boston on Saturday
The shoes were taken to a lab for further analysis by the FBI, said Kinton, who praised the actions of passengers and crew. "We obviously had actions that aircraft that prevented something from occurring," he said.

Authorities continued combing the aircraft Saturday evening for any other suspicious devices, Kinton said.

Passengers were detained for questioning, but there was no disruption of any other flights or operations at the airport, a Massport spokeswoman said. However, security officials have begun conducting random checks of passengers' shoes.

Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a civil aviation security bulletin warning that the U.S. government had received information "that suggests the possibility of terrorist hijackings of airliners from either the U.S. or Europe."

Thierry Dugeon, flight 63 passenger, says he helped to subdue a man the FBI suspects may have had explosives in his shoes.
"We are concerned that hijackers may attempt to smuggle disassembled weapons on board an airliner by hiding weapon components within their shoes," read the December 11 advisory, which was distributed to airlines and airline security.

A senior administration official said that the White House has been monitoring the situation and has notified President Bush, who is spending the holiday weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

--CNN Correspondents Kelly Wallace, Bill Delaney, Jeff Levine and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.
post #2 of 7
I had not heard this. Very brave indeed!
post #3 of 7
I hadn't heard about this either. It's a good thing they were able to stop that man in time!
post #4 of 7
I saw this last night. How scary for those poor passengers, and right before Christmas too. I can't believe that man bit the flight attendant. I wonder what they'll find out about the whole mess. I am glad not to be flying this year.
post #5 of 7
Oh My....I saw this story on CNN late last night and it's a good thing that I was so busy yesterday that I didn't watch the news earlier. And I am so glad that I didn't know about the warning the FAA had out about flying from Europe. Thank God the passangers and crew were so brave and are all ok!

You see my daughter, her hubby and 2 grandkids were flying in from Frankfurt, Germany to Dallas, Texas at the same time yesterday!! And on Am. Airlines!!! I said a special prayer last night thanking God that the terrorist didn't choose to do this on the flight from Frankfurt instead of the one from Paris! And also thanked God for being with the people on the flight from Pais.

This is just tooooo scary. Well they all landed safely in Dallas and they are now back in Louisiana. Son In Law is in the Army but is now back in the states for good. Another blessing!! Even though I have lots to be sad about this year I also have lots to be thankful for!

Merry Christmas to all....
post #6 of 7
We heard about this last night. What brave people! I don't know if I would have known what to do. And I wonder how many doctors are going to carry sedatives now?

They said, on the news, that the real danger wasn't the explosion itself, but that if he blew out a window or caused a hull breach, the change in air pressure would tear the plane apart.

I must say, though, that we had a good laugh, can you imagine? "No, the fake passport didn't bother us and we didn't think it was at all unusual that he was flying from Europe to the US with only a carry on. It was when he tried to set his shoe on fire, that really tipped us off."

Why didn't airport security catch this?
post #7 of 7
I can't wait to fly back to Maryland tomorrow!
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