A London-bound US Airways flight returned to Philadelphia after an allegedly drunk unruly flier grouped three women and spurred federal air marshals into action Tuesday evening, the FBI says in an affidavit.
The incident first began when two women on US Airways Flight 728 complained that their seatmate -- 40-year-old Robert John Coppack of California -- had been drinking vodka and touched them inappropriately, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The women told an attendant that they did not feel comfortable sitting next to the man.
When the attendant instructed Coppack to stop touching the women, "he became aggressive and used vulgar language to her and the passengers around him," an FBI affidavit says, according to Philly.com.
US Airways crew asked Coppack to move to the back of the aircraft. He complied, but – on the way – he groped a third woman. That woman, a retired flight attendant, said Coppack grabbed her arm and breast, the affidavit says, according to The Associated Press.
Federal air marshals intervened as Coppack reached the rear of the plane. The affidavit says Coppack then threatened the marshals with violence if they did not leave him alone. The marshals responded by handcuffing and restraining Coppack until the Airbus A330 returned to Philadelphia.
The decision to return to Philadelphia came about an hour into the flight, CBS Philadelphia reports.
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Coppack was taken into custody on arrival and will remain in custody until Monday, when he faces a detention and probable cause hearing in federal court, according to NBC Philadelphia. He is charged with intimidating a flight crew and interfering with their work.
The flight first took off from Philadelphia around 10:20 p.m. local time and returned to the airport around 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning, according to CBS Philadelphia. Flight 728 took off again for London – without Coppack on board – around 3 a.m. It arrived at Heathrow about four hours later than originally scheduled, according to US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr.
Coppack told officials that he was traveling on a British passport and that he has dual citizenship.
The flight was the third Philadelphia flight on US Airways to suffer an unusual incident during the past two weeks. On May 11, a US Airways flight from Italy to Philadelphia diverted to Ireland after the attendants became ill. And on May 4, six people were injured on a Philadelphia-to-Orlando flight that ran into severe turbulence.