A retired farmer who insisted on doing in-flight yoga rather than sit in his seat went on to become violent, threatening to kill passengers, yelling that there is no god and trying to bite and head-butt people attempting to restrain him, a court has heard.
The Japan-bound United Airlines flight returned to Hawaii over the incident, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.
The pilot turned the plane around upon receiving reports that Hyongtae Pae, 72, was yelling at crew members and pushing his wife, with whom he was travelling, the FBI stated in a criminal complaint.
Pre, a Korean, told the FBI he preferred to do yoga and meditate at the back of the plane than remain seated during meal service. He grew angry when his wife and cabin crew tried to persuade him to return to his seat.
He tried to head-butt and bite US Marines travelling on the flight who attempted to force him back to his seat, according to testimony at his detention hearing in Hawaii.
US authorities contend Pae was violent and threatened passengers, urinated on himself and was on suicide watch at the Honolulu Federal Detention Centre.
US Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang released Pae on USD 25,000 bond on condition he remain on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and that he undergo a mental health evaluation.
Judge Chang declined to allow Pae to return home to Korea – because that would involve another flight.
Outside court, Pae’s lawyer said his client had taken a Hawaiian holiday to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary. It was the couple’s first trip to Hawaii. Pae had recently taken up yoga to counter anxiety, but part of his problem was lack of sleep in Hawaii. Pae told the FBI he hadn’t slept for 11 days.
Written by Peter Needham