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Jet fighters and imaginary butterflies take to the air

October 6, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A threatening scribble on a business-class dinner napkin and a passenger chasing an imaginary butterfly down the aisle are among the bizarre events to have kept airlines twitchy in the skies recently.

Britain’s Royal Air Force scrambled supersonic Typhoon fighter jets earlier this week to intercept a Ryanair flight and divert it to Stansted Airport following a suspected hoax security alert.

The flight from Kaunas in Lithuania, originally heading for Luton, landed normally, Ryanair reported. Passengers were transferred to their scheduled airport by coach but there was no word on what had triggered the alert, though police said it was “not believed to be a hijack situation or terror matter”.


In Hawaii, meanwhile, a court heard how fighter jets were scrambled to escort an American Airlines flight after a Turkish passenger dashed around the aisle pursuing a butterfly that only he could see.

Anil Uskanli, 25, told a Honolulu federal court on Tuesday that a butterfly emerged suddenly from the seat pocket in front of him.

“The butterfly went crazy … flew into the toilet,” Uskanli told the court. “I followed it. I tried to kill it by punching it.”

Uskanli was explaining his actions aboard an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu on 19 May 2017. He told the court that he now knows that he was ill at the time and had been hallucinating.

The court heard Uskanli strode to the front of the plane with a blanket wrapped around his head, carrying a laptop that crew members feared might contain explosives. The Hawaii National Guard scrambled two fighter jets to escort the plane to Honolulu. Uskanli has pleaded guilty to disrupting the flight, Honolulu media reports. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a fine of up to USD 250,000.

Back in Britain, meanwhile, a London publican faces jail for scrawling “death to Allah” on a table napkin during a Qatar Airways flight.

London’s Evening Standard reported that Joseph Breslin, 36, who runs a pub in south London, wrote the words after becoming “tired and irritated” with business class service on a flight to London Heathrow.

RAF Typhoon

He wrote a napkin note attacking Muslims wearing headscarves and dropped it between two passengers after the plane landed.

A court in Isleworth, near London Heathrow, heard that Breslin targeted the pair because he felt one of them had been deliberately spraying perfume to annoy him.

The note was “very derogatory towards people who wear headscarves” and it also said “death to Allah”, the court heard. It had left the pair “frightened and terrified”, the prosecutor said.

Breslin pleaded guilty to two charges of religiously aggravated harassment and one count of religiously aggravated criminal damage.

Judge Annabel Darlow QC freed Breslin on bail until sentencing on 31 October 2017 but warned him a prison sentence is likely, the paper reported.

Written by Peter Needham

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