Kiwi stops crazed passenger opening emergency door on flight

Restaurateur Mark Ansley was worried that the commotion might have been a distraction for some other terrorism threat.
Restaurateur Mark Ansley was worried that the commotion might have been a distraction for some other terrorism threat. Greg Bowker

A Kiwi air traveller wrestled with a crazed passenger who tried to force open an emergency aircraft door mid-flight between Vietnam and Australia.

The dramatic high-altitude incident unfolded about an hour into an 8-hour Vietnam Airlines flight on Monday at 40,000 feet.

Auckland restaurant owner Mark Ansley said he was woken on the flight between Ho Chi Minh City and Sydney by passengers' screams and saw the man trying to open the emergency exit.

Australian police have confirmed the man involved was a 27-year-old Sydney local from the suburb of Greenacre.

Mr Ansley, 33, owner of El Faro Spanish restaurant in the CBD, said he saw the man fighting with a woman while he tried to break through the emergency exit of the Airbus 330.

The woman was kicking at the man as he tried to force the door, and he swung back at her with one hand before moving out of her reach and continuing to work on the emergency exit.

"A guy got out of his seat, put him in a headlock and took him to the ground and another got on top of him and another got his feet."

Mr Ansley then came to their aid, hit the man in the head a few times to stun him, before tying his wrists tightly with cable ties.

"I'm telling him, 'Stop fighting it, stop fighting it'."

A group of passengers then tied the man to a row of chairs.

Mr Ansley asked the airline crew to check that the man was travelling alone, before going through his luggage and iPad.

The restrained passenger with his wrists tied tightly with cable ties.

"I was worried that this was a distraction for some other terrorism thing. I walked around the whole plane for the next four hours watching all the passengers just to make sure nothing else was going to happen."

 

The restrained passenger with his wrists tied tightly with cable ties.
The restrained passenger with his wrists tied tightly with cable ties.

He said the man appeared "delusional", as if in an amphetamine psychosis, and had told others on board he'd been kidnapped and that his life was in danger.

When he boarded the plane he was sweating and his pupils appeared enlarged, Mr Ansley said.

"He was high."

When the flight arrived at Sydney airport, police marched the man away and took the details of other passengers.

Mr Ansley posted a picture of the restrained man on his Facebook page and wrote: "This prick tried to kill himself and all others on board VN773 by jumping out emergency exit.

"Luckily three lads held him down while I stunned him with head shots then cable tied him."

He also wrote that passengers were later told the emergency door would not have opened at that altitude anyway.

The eventful flight meant Mr Ansley, who has a 6-year-old son, arrived in Auckland at 6pm on Tuesday and returned to work with no sleep.

"It was horrible ... I was really looking forward to a good sleep on the way back ... I just wanted to get home to my son."

The man is due to appear in the Downing Centre court next month.



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