California man charged with flight crew interference

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A California man has been charged with interfering with a flight crew aboard a commercial jet flying from Seattle to Anchorage.

James Edward Burbach Jr., 41, of Livermore was arrested Thursday night when Alaska Airlines Flight 85 reached Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

According to FBI agent Thomas McClenaghan, the jet's captain, shortly before the aircraft touched down, said there would be turbulence. He told passengers to sit down and prepare for landing.

A flight attendant walked through the cabin, tripped on a passenger's foot and stumbled. According to McClenaghan, the attendant apologized to the passenger and took a seat in the rear galley.

Burbach approached the attendant in the galley. The attendant thought he was ill and began to get up, according to McClenaghan. Burbach pushed the attendant down on the jump seat, held him with both hands on his shoulders, moved to within a few inches of his face and screamed and used profanities, according to McClenaghan.

Burbach apparently believed the attendant had struck him and had failed to properly apologize.

After about three minutes, another flight attendant calmed Burbach down and Burbach returned to his seat.

He was to appear before a federal magistrate Friday.

The maximum penalty for flight crew interference is a fine, 20 years in prison or both.

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