The Washington Times - June 27, 2008, 09:53PM



By Jeffrey Denning

A colleague of mine rhetorically asked me once, “Do you know how people say ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question?’”

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Well,” he said, “There are stupid questions and there are stupid people.”


Actually I’d prefer the more genteel approach: Sometimes people just do stupid things.

Once while I was on a delayed flight to Denver, a flight attendant told me that an “ugly middle-aged woman with a southern accent” threatened her. The lady - ughum…I mean the passenger - said, “If you don’t help me get to my connection on time, I’m going to get my gun and come back and shoot you.”

Now that was stupid.

Was it wrong that I chuckled when this lady later missed her connection flight? Oh, the irony. I’m sure she enjoyed speaking with the uniformed police officer and a couple of FBI agents who escorted her off the plane once we landed.

I only thought of that because earlier this week, according to the FBI website, Terrice Hutchinson, 53, of Denver, Colorado was arrested for making an airplane bomb threat. She called Southwest Airlines and told them that her husband, a passenger of the airline, had a bomb that he was going to detonate.

Boy, if she wanted to get back at her husband for something he did, I’m sure she could do a Google-search for “revenge and get even” and find something just as exciting that wouldn’t land her in a jail cell.

There are true stories of people doing really stupid things on a plane, that not many people know about - the kind that rarely if ever get media attention. The professionals who quietly and anonymously secure our nation’s commercial aircraft from criminals and terrorists –– the Federal Air Marshals –– occasionally run into those individuals who have, well, an intelligence disadvantage.

One of these individuals just happened to be sitting next to a former colleague of mine, an undercover air marshal and a former street cop.

The passenger who just happend to be sitting next to this husky air marshal, had a white powdery substance which he put up to his nose and sniffed. Shocked at what he observed, the air marshal asked nonchalantly, “What’s that?”

“It’s cocaine,” the passenger replied unashamedly. “Do you want some,” he added.

The quick-thinking air marshal acted nimbly and professionally. The fight was over before it begun and the drug user was in handcuffs the rest of the flight. Kudos to that air marshal.

Who knows, the man might have gotten high, taken off his pants and deficated on the food tray.

Yes, that happened on a flight too.