At about 4:40PM on November 17 AirTran Flight 297 was supposed to head to Houston via Atlanta. Before the Boeing 717 aircraft hit the runway, the pilot was told to return back to the gate. A flight attendant asked a Spanish passenger to put his phone (or camera) away.
The man did not comply so the flight attendant took away the device. The man and 12 other passengers traveling with him were subsequently kicked off the flight. It turns out the Spanish man did not speak English and the whole incident turned out to be a miscommunication. After a translator clarified the issue, everyone was allowed back on board including the Spanish man and the 12 people with him.
Theodore (Tedd) Petruna sent out an e-mail to friends and family about how he prevented an escalating situation with 11 Arabic men on that same flight. Keep in mind, he was never on that flight. Regardless his story landed on The Project 9.12, a website started by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.
After that Tedd’s fictitiously heroic story spread like wildfire. Many people applauded him for his efforts. “I grabbed the man who had been on the phone by the arm and said ?you will go sit down or you will be thrown from this plane,’ ” wrote Petruna in an e-mail. Petruna also described the 11 men he confronted as being dressed in “full attire” and speaking Arabic to each other.
“After conducting additional research into this situation, we have verified, according to flight manifests [legally binding documents] that the individual that allegedly created a first-hand account of events on-board AirTran Airways Flight 297, a Theodore Petruna, was never actually on-board the flight,” stated AirTran in a press release.
AirTran also pointed out Petruna was actually on AirTran Flight 205 on November 17 and was departing from Akron-Canton, Ohio. He was supposed to connect on Flight 297 but he missed his first flight out of Ohio causing him to miss the connector. AirTran Flight 297 left the gate at 4:40PM which was 26 minutes before Flight 205 landed in Atlanta.
Moral of the Story
If you claim that you are doing The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s job for them, make sure to not lie about. Make sure to also have evidence backing up your claims.