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Home Travel Nathan Jones tried to breach Alaska Airlines cockpit three times mid-flight, told crew he was ‘testing them’: docs

Nathan Jones tried to breach Alaska Airlines cockpit three times mid-flight, told crew he was ‘testing them’: docs

by Staff

A 19-year-old student pilot traveling as a passenger aboard a cross-country Alaska Airlines flight allegedly tried multiple times to rush the cockpit, bizarrely telling crew members he was “testing them,” according to a court filing.

Nathan Jones was arrested earlier this month on a federal charge of interference with flight crew members stemming from his alleged mid-flight disruption.

Jones boarded Alaska Airlines Flight 322 from San Diego to Washington DC on March 3, assigned to seat 6E — but he did not stay in it long, according to federal air marshal Thomas Pattinson.

Student pilot Nathan Jones was arrested for allegedly making repeated attempts to breach the cockpit aboard an Alaska Airlines flight (stock image). Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Jones got out of his seat multiple times and made three separate attempts to go to the front of the plane and open the aircraft’s cockpit door,” Pattinson wrote in an affidavit filed in Virginia district court and reviewed by The Post on Wednesday.

The passenger’s antics prompted alarmed flight attendants to ask for help from some off-duty law enforcement officers present on the plane, who restrained Jones in flex cuffs and sat on either side of him for the remainder of the five-hour flight.

“When flight attendants asked Jones why he tried to access the cockpit, Jones replied that he was ‘testing them,’” the air marshal stated in his March 4 filing.

As a result of the passenger’s repeated attempts to breach the flight deck, it was locked down for the duration of the trip — and cabin crew members took the additional step of putting the beverage cart in front of the cockpit to physically block access to it. 

When the flight landed at Dulles International Airport, Jones allowed law enforcement to search his luggage, where agents found “multiple notebooks with writings describing how to operate an aircraft, including take-off, in-air, and landing techniques,” according to the affidavit.

His wallet was found to contain his student pilot’s license. 

Jones’ lawyer, Robert J. Jenkins, told The Post on Wednesday that the charges against his client were inconsistent with his life, which included no prior history of arrests.

He described the student pilot as a young man who lives with his mother in Virginia.

Jenkins said that in the wake of the incident, Jones’ family has become concerned about his mental health. He added that there is no evidence at this time that the 19-year-old was intoxicated during the flight.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft as seen landing at dusk time at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport DCA in Arlington County, Virginia over the Potomac River
Crew members aboard the plane had to block the flight deck with a beverage cart for safety (stock image). Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Jenkins stressed that there is nothing to suggest that Jones had the ability or intent to harm anyone.

“There were no weapon that were found on him at all,” he noted.

Jones’ attorney on Wednesday requested a mental health evaluation for his client, but he will remain in lockup pending his detention hearing on March 18. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

The incident comes five months after an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot allegedly tripping on psychedelic mushrooms tried to crash a San Francisco-bound flight by shutting off the engines.

Joseph Emerson, 44, pleaded not guilty to one count of endangering aircraft and 83 counts of recklessly endangering another person.

Alaska Airlines was back in the news for all the wrong reasons in early January, when a door plug blew off one of its Boeing 737 Max 9 planes mid-flight.

So far in 2024, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received 336 reports of unruly passengers, according to the agency’s latest data.

In 2023, the FAA dealt with 2,075 unruly passenger incidents — a 15% drop from the previous year.

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