Pilot Who Allegedly Threatened Captain Claims It Was a Joke

(RepublicanNews.org) – A former pilot for Delta Air Lines has appeared in court after being charged with interfering with a flight crew. Jonathan J. Dunn, 42, was indicted by a grand jury on October 18th, 2023, and made his first court appearance in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday, January 4th, where his attorney argued that the incident in question was simply a “misunderstanding”.

Dunn, a married father of four, was working as a first officer, also known as a co-pilot, when he is alleged to have threatened to shoot the plane’s captain mid-flight in August 2022 over an argument about a possible diversion. The unnamed captain suggested diverting their flight to Grand Junction in Colorado if a passenger’s medical emergency worsened. The captain claimed that Dunn went “crazy” at this proposal and went so far as to threaten the captain’s life if he tried to divert the plane. Dunn stated that his threats were merely intended as jokes.

Dunn, an Air Force Reserve lieutenant, was authorized to carry a gun on board the plane as part of the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Flight Deck Program. The program was created after the September 11th attacks, when it became clear that the cost of manning every flight with a Flight Marshal was prohibitive. The program allows some pilots to carry weapons on domestic flights, after being vetted and attending a training course. All pilots on the scheme must also undergo regular medical checks in which they must make their examiner aware of any mental health issues and whether they use any medication, drugs, or alcohol. As well as this, all pilots, whether they are part of the Federal Flight Deck Program or not, must undergo training in how to settle disputes calmly.

Dunn, who faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted, will return to court in March 2024. In the meantime, he is permitted to return to his in-laws’ home in South Dakota where he has been staying recently. He was ordered to hand over his passport and is not permitted to handle any firearm or contact any witness before his court date.

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