BANGOR, Maine — A former Air Force intelligence specialist showed signs of paranoia aboard a trans-Atlantic flight and told federal air marshals that he had dynamite in his boots and laptop computer, forcing the plane to be diverted to Maine, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
Derek Stansberry told the FBI that fellow passengers were talking about him, ridiculing him and using interrogation techniques on him, and suggested that he concocted the dynamite story to divert attention from the fact he held “classified information,” according to an affidavit.
Passengers reported that seat cushions, pillows and blankets were taken to the back of the plane, where federal air marshals erected a bunker of sorts around the boots and laptop “to dampen the effects of any potential explosion,” FBI Special Agent James McCarty wrote in the affidavit.
Stansberry, 26, of Riverview, Fla., is charged with false information and threats, and interfering with a flight crew. He was ordered detained pending a competency hearing.
The Air Force described him as a former intelligence specialist who served four years, ending his Air Force career as a senior airman in 2009 at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
He told an FBI agent after the plane landed that there were no explosives and said he made the claim to deflect attention from the classified information he held, McCarty wrote. He also told an FBI agent that he had taken the sleep aid Ambien and told an air marshal that he’d taken eight of the pills, McCarty wrote.
Stansberry’s father, Richard Stansberry, described his son Tuesday as “squeaky clean” and said the charges made no sense. He couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
Delta Air Lines Flight 273 was the first of two flight diversions in a 24-hour span. On Wednesday, a Continental Express flight from Houston to the Washington area was diverted to North Carolina after a threatening message was written on a bathroom mirror, the Transportation Security Administration said.
On Tuesday afternoon, there were 235 passengers and 13 crew members on the Paris-to-Atlanta flight when it was forced to land at Bangor International Airport.
Among the passengers who had to spend the night in Bangor were Charde Houston, an all-star for the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, and J. Alexander, featured on the TV show “America’s Next Top Model.” The weary travelers were finally allowed to depart Wednesday afternoon.
Stansberry came to the attention of the flight crew when he handed a rambling note to a flight attendant that said that his passport and identification papers were fake. He made the claim of having dynamite after being moved to the back of the plane for questioning by a federal air marshal.
Air marshals took Stansberry into custody without incident. Passengers were later told the plane was headed to Bangor, which is accustomed to dealing with diverted flights thanks to its location as the first large U.S. airport for incoming European flights.
Filed under: FBI, Military Industrial Complex Tagged: | Bangor International Airport, Charde Houston, Continental Express, Delta Air Lines, Derek Stansberry, Federal Air Marshal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hurlburt Field, J. Alexander, James McCarty, Richard Stansberry, Transportation Security Administration, USAF