Co-Pilot Who Landed JetBlue Plane Was Voted ‘Most Understanding’

JetBlue Airways Corp. Co-Pilot Jason Dowd
Dowd, 41, doesn’t think he did anything special March 27 when he diverted the JetBlue plane to a safe landing, his father Lewis Dowd said. Source: Facebook via Bloomberg

The JetBlue Airways Corp. co-pilot who locked his ranting captain out of the cockpit this week was voted his high-school’s “most understanding” senior and, his father said, wouldn’t like being called a hero.

Jason Dowd, 41, doesn’t think he did anything special March 27 when he diverted the plane to a safe landing, Lewis Dowd said in an interview today.

“You do what you have to do, and I guess that was part of his job,” said Lewis Dowd, 82. “There are a lot of good people, a lot of level-headed people out there. He did the right thing.”

There was no answer this morning at Jason Dowd’s home in Salem, Ohio, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Youngstown. Perry Township Police Chief Michael Emigh, who was patrolling the neighborhood, said that he spoke with the family last night and that Dowd, who is married with 5- and 3-year-old children, wouldn’t be available for comment today.

He might not like being called hero, but he deserves it anyway, said Tim Palcho, chief instructor at Kent State University in Ohio, where Dowd earned an aerospace technology degree.

Dowd went “above and beyond” on March 27, Palcho in a telephone interview today.

“He did his job, and he did it well,” Palcho said.

‘Leap of Faith’

The elder Dowd said he spoke with his son by phone last night in New York and that he was told not to say much.

Capt. Clayton Osbon, charged March 28 with interfering with a flight crew, was tackled by passengers as he pounded on the cockpit door after leaving and then demanding to be let back in, according to an FBI affidavit.

Dowd became concerned about Osbon’s behavior shortly after the flight to Las Vegas left New York, according to the filing.

The captain yelled over the radio at air-traffic controllers and rambled about religion, according to the FBI. The co-pilot “became really worried” when Osbon said “we need to take a leap of faith” and “We’re not going to Vegas,” the FBI said in the affidavit.

Lewis Dowd said his son has flown before with Osbon, though he had no other details. Jason Dowd has been flying with JetBlue for seven or eight years, his father said.

Dowd is licensed to fly the Airbus SAS A320 and the Embaer SA EMB-190, according to records on the FAA’s website. He also received a license as a flight instructor, the records showed.

Ready Shoveler

Helen Beachler, 79, who lives across the street from the one-story home in Salem, Ohio, where Dowd grew up, said she wasn’t surprised by his actions. Dowd always tried to be helpful and often volunteered to shovel her driveway, Beachler said.

“I knew he could do it,” Beachler said. “He’s a smart boy.”

Dowd attended Salem High School, where he ran track and cross-country, was a member of the band, a science lab aide and voted “most understanding” boy of his senior class in 1990, according to the high-school yearbook.

Lewis Dowd said his son decided in college he wanted to be a pilot. He graduated from Kent State in 1995 with a major in aerospace technology and a concentration in aerospace flight technology, Emily Vincent, a spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview.

Dowd received flight training at the university in emergency situations such as engine failures, though nothing like the one he encountered, Palcho said.

John Paul Tolson, a neighbor of Dowd’s in Salem, a city of about 12,000, said he knew Dowd from block picnics.

“It was unbelievable to think a guy who lives right down the street had a role in this,” Tolson, 63, said in a telephone interview. “Small-town pride.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE