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JetBlue midair meltdown pilot hears charges

By Ioanna Makris

AMARILLO, Texas (Reuters) - The JetBlue pilot who suffered a midair meltdown that triggered an emergency landing last week limped into federal court in shackles on Monday to hear the charges against him.

Captain Clayton Osbon, who appeared with his attorneys, told Magistrate Judge Clinton Averitte he understood his rights and the charges against him for interfering with a flight crew.

"I do," said Osbon, who was wearing a green collared shirt and khaki pants.

A preliminary hearing and a detention hearing were scheduled for Thursday. Federal prosecutors urged the judge against releasing him pending trial.

Osbon, a 12-year JetBlue veteran, remains in federal custody. His attorneys declined to comment.

Flight 191 from New York to Las Vegas was diverted to Amarillo last Tuesday following what authorities described as erratic behavior by Osbon, who witnesses said ran through the cabin before passengers tackled him in the galley.

He screamed incoherently about religion and terrorists, witnesses said in court documents.

During the initial court appearance on Monday, Osbon smiled and winked at his wife, Connye Osbon, and JetBlue representatives.

Connye Osbon had said on Sunday the family was focused on her husband's recovery and thanked those on the flight for their professionalism after being put in "an awful situation."

"It is our belief, as Clayton's family, that while he was clearly distressed, he was not intentionally violent toward anyone," Connye Osbon's statement said.

She also asked for privacy.

(Editing By Corrie MacLaggan and Todd Eastham)

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