Air Travel Hits Turbulence in Wake of UK Based Terror Plot

21 August 2006: In the wake of the 2006 version of Operation Bojinka – a reference to the most recent insidious plot designed to take out a number of international flights carrying US flags, a number of unusual incidents have been reported aboard airliners and at airports within the last week. Based on the statements made by federal authorities, however, none of those incidents had anything to do with terrorism.

Delta Airlines Flight 6492

“It wound up being the flight attendant’s word against a passenger’s, and this guy turned out to be not suspicious at all.” –FBI spokesman Erik Vasys

19 August 2006: Delta Air Lines Flight 6492 flying from Atlanta, Georgia to San Antonio, Texas was the focus of an investigation upon landing at the San Antonio International Airport on Saturday. According to flight attendants, one man aboard the aircraft that was carrying 36 passengers was overheard being “disruptive” inside the lavatory and had spent an extended amount of time inside the locked bathroom. According to one crew member, the man spent “the majority of the in-flight time inside of the lavatory, exiting near the end of the flight.” After the passenger exited the lavatory, an inspection by alert flight attendants found that some of the ceiling tiles were obviously moved, and the smoke detector, although still operable, showed signs of tampering.

Upon landing, the plane was diverted to a far north corner of the airport and two teams of bomb-sniffing dogs were dispatched to search the plane. According to police officials and airport spokesman David Hebert, both K9 units showed interest in the plane. A bomb squad was then summoned and swept the plane for explosive material, although reportedly found nothing suspicious. While parked on the far end of the tarmac, the 36 passengers and all luggage aboard jet were removed from the plane. All but one of the passengers were free to go.
The man who created the disruption was questioned by federal authorities at the San Antonio International Airport, stated FBI spokesman Erik Vasys. The passenger was not identified. As the passenger was being questioned, Vasys added, “We’re just trying to determine what his intentions were. It may be a simple issue which does not result in an arrest.”

On Sunday, FBI spokesman Erik Vasys told news reporters that “He [the passenger] was cooperative during the interview. He allowed a search of his house, a search of his person, a search of his belongings. Nothing of a suspicious nature was found.”

American Airlines Flight 2036

19 August 2006: American Airlines Flight 2036-a Boeing 737 flying from Dallas, Texas to Miami, Florida made an emergency landing at the Tampa airport at about 7:30 PM after the plane’s crew became suspicious of two locked lavatory doors. Suspicion grew after the flight crew accounted for all 104 passengers and five crew members, none who were inside either lavatory. Police, air marshals and Transportation Safety Administration officials searched the plane upon landing, using bomb sniffing dogs but found nothing suspicious in either lavatory. They unlocked the bathroom doors, but no one was inside, stated Fred Dettmann, spokesman for the Tampa International Airport. “There was no security threat detected,” added American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith.

British carrier Excel Airways charter plane diverted to Italy due to bomb threat

19 August 2006: A British charter jet flying from Gatwick Airport bound for the Egyptian resort of Hurghada was diverted to Italy in mid-flight on Friday after a note was found scribbled on a sick bag saying there was a bomb on board. The cabin crew passed the warning to the flight deck, after which the captain announced the content of the note and stated that the aircraft was being diverted. The plane was about two hours into its flight. According to passengers and flight crew, the note read, “There is a bomb on this aircraft.”

The Boeing 767 with 269 passengers aboard, operated by charter carrier Excel Airways, landed safely at Italy’s Brindisi airport at 2:45 PM UK time after being escorted by an Italian air force F16 fighter. The captain stated he was taking the practical measure of diverting the aircraft into Brindisi; the flight crew escorted the passengers into the terminal building and were given refreshments. Based on all reports, nothing suspicious was found from the search of the plane.

United Airlines Flight 923


Luggage being inspected for explosives - a “telling” indication that something more is amiss.

16 August 2006: The Northeast Intelligence Network first reported on the events taking place on this flight as they occurred last Wednesday. United Airlines flight 923, carrying 182 passengers and 12 crew members flying from London Heathrow airport to Washington, D.C. was diverted to Boston Logan airport after the bizarre behavior of a female identified as Catherine C. MAYO, 59, of 92 Battles Brook Road, (Battles Schoolhouse) Braintree Vermont. The flight landed safely under escort of two F-15s after the pilot declared an emergency on board as MAYO became unruly, spoke of being in Pakistan and made references to the flight crew about constructing a bomb on board the flight.

Her U.S. passport indicated that she left Pakistan on August 15 and entered the United Kingdom via Dubai. She was returning to the US and was on the last leg of a series of connecting flights that took her from Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates, then to London, and finally to Washington, DC.

MAYO, who has lived in Vermont most of her life, also lives part time in Pakistan and is a columnist for the Daily Times of Pakistan. She publicly criticized President Bush, calling him “a president not elected by the people,” and wrote against the war in Iraq. “The folksongs of the 1960s will never be written again because of President George Bush. He has hampered the liberties of my country in the name of September 11. Songs now can only talk of patriotism they cannot mention peace,” she wrote in one column.

About 90 minutes into the flight, members of the flight crew observed MAYO acting strangely; when a flight attendant told her to return to her seat, MAYO said she wanted to speak to an air marshal and made statements about knowing that people wanted to see what was in her bag. Among other items, her carry-on bag reportedly contained a number of disposable lighters, a container of petroleum jelly, matches, a bottle of water and a screwdriver.

Authorities took MAYO and one other female passenger into custody – MAYO for with interfering with a flight crew, and a second unidentified female passenger for an immigration violation. According to a source within United Airlines, there is an indication that two other Pakistani nationals might have been traveling with MAYO – or on the same flight and have been identified as persons of interest. The two males were described as being “overdressed” and “acting strangely” during the melee with MAYO. Based on the entire series of events, the entire aircraft was searched, inlcuing the luggage in the cargo area.