Saturday, December 05, 2009


Remember my post from a couple of days ago about the alleged "terrorist dry run" on a flight from Atlanta to Houston, a wingnut panic set off by an e-mail account that went viral, written by a guy who claimed he intimidated and helped restrain the alleged evildoers? Well, now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a bit of interesting news:

AirTran 'hero' wasn't on plane, airline says

It's 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....

"I grabbed the man who had been on the phone by the arm and said 'you will go sit down or you will be thrown from this plane,'" Petruna wrote. Continuing, Petruna said 11 men dressed in "full attire" speaking Arabic got on the plane together....

There was no way Petruna could have seen what he described on Flight 297, AirTran said in a statement. Petruna departed from Akron-Canton, Ohio, on AirTran Flight 205 on Nov. 17, officials said. He was supposed to connect to Flight 297 to head to Houston, but he missed his first flight out of Ohio. And therefore, he missed the connecting flight.

"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," according to AirTran....

This is rather inconvenient for righty bloggers such as Debbie Schussel, who's essentially gone all Flight 297 all the time. She's clinging to the account by Chaplain Keith Robinson, whose post on the subject I quoted a couple of days ago and who (according to the AJC really was on the plane. Robinson's now giving a lot of interviews -- there's one here with wingnut Melissa Clouthier that's 40 minutes long (I'm not sure I have the strength to listen to it), while Schussel posts the transcript of a Robinson interview by righty talker Steve Gill. In the latter, there's this interesting exchange:

Steve Gill: ... you were literally writing this as it happend, right Keith?

Robinson: That's correct. That's uh, years ago, I had my own nationally syndicated radio talk show and so I knew that I could forget things very quickly if I didn’t start writing it down and perceiving what was going on....

Hmmm, radio. Do you miss it, Keith? Even that (probably) very low-level access to the media -- do you miss it? Did you find out about Petruna's e-mail and gradually come to see it as your big chance to star in a wingnut reality series, The Real Resisters of Islamofascist Jihad? You and (separately) Petruna?

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