JetBlue Pilot Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

By Andrew Lu on July 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon was found not guilty by reason of insanity for disrupting a flight he was supposed to be captaining.

Earlier this year, the 12-year veteran JetBlue pilot lost it on a flight from New York to Las Vegas. He reportedly left the cockpit and began running up the aisles screaming about a bomb being on board. His co-pilot had to lock him out of the cockpit and ask passengers to restrain the pilot.

Osbon was charged with federal crimes for disrupting the flight. But instead of facing jail time, he'll face time in mental facility, reports USA TODAY.

Probably only Osbon can tell you what was going through his head at the time the airplane he was piloting flew over Texas. Whatever it was, it was strong enough to convince him that there was a serious terrorist threat to himself and others when he flipped out and starting screaming about bombs.

In his criminal trial, a judge found that because the JetBlue pilot's "severe mental disease" forced him to perceive this threat and act in the manner he did, he could not be held liable for his actions on the basis of insanity. The insanity defense is used because some people may be acting rationally in their own minds, while completely irrationally to others, and to hold that person criminally liable for their acts would be unfair.

Interestingly, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson found that Clayton Osbon was mentally competent to stand trial, yet was mentally incompetent at the time of his actions. Given that Osbon maintained a 12-year career with JetBlue, it may be safe to assume that he has these episodes sporadically, one of which happened to be mid-flight.

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