UPDATE: Laura Armstrong, a columnist for The Marietta Daily Journal has apparently turned up another witness to the incident that took place on AirTran flight 297.
From The Column
…I discovered another highly credible eyewitness to the incident was none other than Cobb businessman and security expert Brent C. Brown, CEO of Chesley-Brown International.
Brown, who is also chairman of the Marietta History Museum, confirmed late Saturday that he was on Flight 297 and that there was chaos on the plane. He believes the entire incident was mishandled by AirTran officials, though has kind words for the pilot, who he said, “was dead right” in his decision-making, and is to be commended for turning the plane around.
Seated in the third row in business class, he said it was obvious the suspicious men were interacting with each other and refusing to sit down, grounds for the pilot’s decision.
Once back at the gate, however, Brown says there were no law enforcement officials visible (this contradicts the Texan’s e-mail) and airline officials weren’t talking to the passengers, who were openly upset and refusing to fly.
“The tension on board was incredible,” Brown said. The men who came back on board after questioning were belligerent and smirking, and the people who got off, he confirmed, were traumatized.
Read The Full Background Story Is Here – Airtran Flight 297
UPDATE: The debate of what actually took place on AirTran Flight 297 continues unabated on several blogs and websites today and it doesn’t appear the story will go away anytime soon. Both Debbie Schussel and World Net Daily have posted articles questioning AirTran’s response to the incident, suggesting the airline is not telling the full story. At this point it’s difficult to say who is.
AirTran Response States Emailer, Tedd Petruna Was Not Aboard Flight
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that it may be a little easier to understand why a man who claimed to have thwarted a potential terrorist attack on a plane has not answered repeated requests to tell his story. He was not on the plane, according to AirTran Airways.
“After conducting additional research into this situation, we have verified, according to flight manifests (legally binding documents) that the individual that allegedly created a first-hand account of events on-board AirTran Airways Flight 297, a Theodore Petruna, was never actually on-board the flight,” AirTran said in a statement, which the AJC was the first to obtain.
But is that the end of the story?
The news video at the bottom of this post from KHOU leaves many questions still unanswered including an interview with a Chaplin who boarded the plane after the incident and states he saw flight attendants openly sobbing. Tedd Petruna, according to several sources, is sticking to his story. We have attempted to contact him by email but have not received a response.
The Dallas Morning news reports the following update
In the latest developments, Houston television station KHOU has done a story about the flight and has talked to the man who sent the email, Tedd Petruna.
The station quoted Petruna as saying: “”I’m glad it got out. Due to personal and financial reasons, I can’t speak about this.”
The report said Petruna “admits that his description of the men’s attire was wrong, and he admits he didn’t personally see anyone watching pornographic videos.”
And AirTran has posted a long message on its internal web site responding to the email point by point, and cites many discrepancies between what Petruna’s email claimed and what it says its investigation found out.
“We bring this to your attention in order to dispel myths that are beginning to make the rounds in chat rooms, blogs and conspiracy theorists’ Web sites,” AirTran told its employees.
AirTran Response To Email
After conducting additional research into this situation, we have verified, according to flight manifests (legally binding documents) that the individual that allegedly created a first-hand account of events on-board AirTran Airways flight 297, a Theodore Petruna, was never actually on-board the flight.
According to all available records, Mr. Petruna’s trip originated from Akron-Caton, Ohio (CAK) on AirTran flight 205. This flight arrived at the gate in Atlanta at 5:06 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Flight 297, the flight which Mr. Patruna allegedly wrote a first-hand account of, originally pushed back from its gate in Atlanta at 4:40 p.m. EST, a full 26 minutes before flight 205 arrived at the gate in Atlanta making this flight connection impossible.
While Mr. Patruna was originally scheduled to begin his journey on AirTran flight 202 from CAK and connect to flight 297 in Atlanta he did not make that original flight.
Watch The KHOU News Video And Interview