Muslim Mayhem on AirTran Jetliner-Truth!
Summary of the eRumor: This eRumor is said to be from
a man who was aboard an airplane about to depart from Atlanta, Georgia
when there was a disturbance which he describes as prompted by a group
of 11 “Muslim men got on the plane in full attire” and “peppered
themselves throughout the plane.” They created a disturbance that
included loud cell phone conversations, the showing of a porn video on a
portable player, calling a flight attendant “an infidel dog.” The writer
claims that he and another passenger helped physically escort the eleven
men toward the exit of the airplane where they were met by 3 TSA agents
and 4 police officers to took the men away. Later, however, the men were
allowed to reboard the airplane at which point several of the passengers
and the entire crew got off in protest and said they would not fly when
the men on the plane. The writer of the eRumor says all of the men were
talking in Arabic and speculates whether this was a dry-run for a
The Truth: This story has taken a lot of
twists and turns.
This eRumor turned out to be from an email that was sent to friends by a
man named Ted Petruna from Houston, Texas. One of the forwarded emails
that we received including his email address and we contacted him to ask
about the story.
Mr. Petruna told us
that he sent this to a few friends and that he never intended for it to
become so widely distributed. As we looked more thoroughly
into the story, some of the details related by Petruna were in conflict
with what we were told by Air Tran airlines and local media accounts.
Then in an interview
with a Houston television station, Petruna changed some of the story
saying, for example, he did not see the man who he
said had been watching porn and that he did not stand behind his
description of the attire of the group of foreigners.
Then on 12/4/09 Air Tran issued a statement saying that they had checked
the flight manifest and "that the individual that allegedly created a
first-hand account of events on-board Air Tran Airways flight 297, a
Theodore Petruna, was never actually on-board the flight."
According to the report, the flight that Petruna was on from Ohio landed
in Atlanta 26 minutes after AirTran 297 left the gate. This caused him
to miss his connection and his "eyewitness account" is a fabricated
for AirTran Breaking News Update
Christopher White confirmed that an incident take place on November 17,
2009 aboard AirTran flight 297, which was scheduled to fly from Atlanta
to Houston, Texas. White told TruthorFiction.com that the incident was a
result of a passenger who was unable to understand and comply with
instructions from flight attendants because he did not speak English.
The passenger was part of a group of foreign travelers and did have a
translator who but he was sitting several rows behind, according to
published reports. White also told TruthOrFiction.com that in no way was
the passenger suspected of any terrorist plot or activities and that no
TSA agents or police officers boarded the plane when it returned to the
According to a report
by the NBC News affiliated in Atlanta, GA, here is a chain events that
led to the incident of Flight 297:
A group of 12 "non-English speaking" passengers and their translator
boarded the AirTran flight to Houston in Atlanta.
When the plane began to taxi to the runway one of the non-English
speakers was spotted by a flight attendant using his cellular phone. His
translator was many rows back so was unable to tell the caller of the
Federal Aviation Administration rules that requires all electronic
devices to be turned off during take off and landing.
Not understanding what the flight attendant was saying, the caller
continued his conversation. This resulted in the flight attendant
alerting the captain of the jetliner, who decided to return the plane to
Once safely at the terminal, the caller and the translator were asked to
exit the aircraft and the rest of the non-English speaking group
followed. When the mix-up was all sorted out all members of the group
were allowed to return to the aircraft which was still at the terminal.
At that time, twelve other passengers who were waiting on the plane
"decided they didn't want to fly on the plane and they all got off."
The Federal Aviation
Administration is investigating the incident but nobody was detained and
no charges were filed.
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
One week ago, I went to Ohio on
business and to see my father. On Tuesday, November the 17th, I returned
home. If you read the papers the 18th you may have seen a blurb where a
AirTran flight was cancelled from Atlanta to Houston due to a man who
refused to get off of his cell phone before takeoff. It was on Fox.
I was in 1st class coming home. 11 Muslim men got on the plane in full
attire. 2 sat in 1st class and the rest peppered themselves throughout
the plane all the way to the back. As the plane taxied to the runway the
stewardesses gave the safety spiel we are all so familiar with. At that
time, one of the men got on his cell and called one of his companions in
the back and proceeded to talk on the phone in Arabic very loudly and
very aggressively. This took the 1st stewardess out of the picture for
she repeatedly told the man that cell phones were not permitted at the
time.. He ignored her as if she was not there.
The 2nd man who answered the phone did the same and this took out the
2nd stewardess. In the back of the plane at this time, 2 younger
Muslims, one in the back, isle, and one in front of him, window, began
to show footage of a porno they had taped the night before, and were
very loud about it. Now they are only permitted to do this prior to
Jihad. If a Muslim man goes into a strip club, he has to view the woman
via mirror with his back to her. (don't ask me .I don't make the rules,
but I've studied) The 3rd stewardess informed them that they were not to
have electronic devices on at this time. To which one of the men said
?shut up infidel dog!? She went to take the camcorder and he began to
scream in her face in Arabic. At that exact moment, all 11 of them got
up and started to walk the cabin. This is where I had had enough! I got
up and started to the back where I heard a voice behind me from another
Texan twice my size say I got your back. I grabbed the man who had
been on the phone by the arm and said you WILL go sit down or you Will
be thrown from this plane! As I led him around me to take his seat, the
fellow Texan grabbed him by the back of his neck and his waist and
headed out with him. I then grabbed the 2nd man and said, You WILL do
the same! He protested but adrenaline was flowing now and he was going
to go. As I escorted him forward the plane doors open and 3 TSA agents
and 4 police officers entered. Me and my new Texan friend were told to
cease and desist for they had this under control. I was happy to oblige
actually. There was some commotion in the back, but within moments, all
11 were escorted off the plane. They then unloaded their luggage.
We talked about the occurrence and were in disbelief that it had happen,
when suddenly, the door open again and on walked all 11!! Stone faced,
eyes front and robotic (the only way I can describe it). The stewardess
from the back had been in tears and when she saw this, she was having
NONE of it! Being that I was up front, I heard and saw the whole ordeal.
She told the TSA agent there was NO WAY she was staying on the plane
with these men. The agent told her they had searched them and were going
to go through their luggage with a fine tooth comb and that they were
allowed to proceed to Houston . The captain and co-captain came out and
told the agent we and our crew will not fly this plane! After a word or
two, the entire crew, luggage in tow, left the plane. 5 minutes later,
the cabin door opened again and a whole new crew walked on.
Again.. this is where I had had enough!!! I got up and asked What the
hell is going on!!?? I was told to take my seat. They were sorry for the
delay and I would be home shortly. I said I'm getting off this plane.
The stewardess sternly told me that she could not allow me to get off.
(now I'm mad!) I said I am a grown man who bought this ticket, who's
time is mine with a family at home and I am going through that door, or
I'm going through that door with you under my arm!! But I am going
through that door!! And I heard a voice behind me say so am I. Then
everyone behind us started to get up and say the same. Within 2 minutes,
I was walking off that plane where I was met with more agents who asked
me to write a statement. I had 5 hours to kill at this point so why the
hell not. Due to the amount of people who got off that flight, it was
cancelled. I was supposed to be in Houston at 6pm. I got here at
Look up the date. Flight 297 Atlanta to Houston.
If this wasn't a dry run, I don't know
what one is. They wanted to see how TSA would handle it, how the crew
would handle it, and how the passengers would handle it.
I'm telling this to you because I want
you to know.