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Unruly Plane Passenger Arrested

February 11, 2000

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ An ex-con who decided to jump on a plane instead of reporting to a halfway house became belligerent aboard a US Airways jetliner and was wrestled to the floor after trying to open a door during the flight, according to authorities and witnesses.

He was arrested after the pilots made an unscheduled landing in Charlotte.

``It was a great feeling to finally touch ground,″ said Keith Kinard of Pittsburgh, who helped subdue the man during the Pittsburgh-to-Miami flight.

``When you’re up there, and you’ve got some guy yelling, ‘I want out! I want out!’ and he’s trying to open doors and you can’t control him, that’s a very scary, isolated feeling.″

John Francis Loftus III, 41, of Camp Hill, Pa., was taken into custody Wednesday.

Authorities said Loftus was released from a Pennsylvania prison Monday after serving time for arson, and was supposed to report to a halfway house in Harrisburg. Instead, he boarded the US Airways flight.

Passengers said that 30 minutes into the flight, Loftus became belligerent after downing several drinks. They said he pushed a flight attendant, grabbed two passengers by the throat and tried to open the door.

Several passengers finally wrestled him to the floor. He was handcuffed and placed in a rear seat of the aircraft.

FBI agents charged Loftus on Thursday with interfering with the plane’s flight crew and assaulting a male passenger. Loftus was jailed and will have a bond hearing next week. During the hearing, he said he was going to Miami with $35,000.

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