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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 22, 2010

Flight disruption charge dropped

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. The government has agreed to drop a charge against a Salem, Ore., man who was accused of interfering with a Hawaiian Airlines crew by filling out a card that talked about crashing into the ocean.

The Oregonian newspaper reports that under an agreement signed Tuesday by U.S. Magistrate Janice M. Stewart, the charge of interfering with the duties of a pilot will be dropped if Joseph H. Johnson, 57, completes a six-month diversion program. Johnson is to perform 50 hours of community service, not use drugs and alcohol and write a letter of apology to Hawaiian Airlines and his fellow passengers.

An FBI affidavit said that on Jan. 6, Johnson was aboard Hawaiian Flight 39 to Maui from Portland when he handed a flight attendant a comment card that asked "what if the plane ripped apart in mid-flight." The pilot became alarmed and returned the Boeing 767 to Portland, accompanied by two Oregon Air National Guard fighter jets.

Johnson told an agent the card was intended as a joke and, because it was sealed, was not to be read in-flight.