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Passengers subdue ‘alien’ on plane

2010-05-04T00:38:00Z Passengers subdue ‘alien’ on planeBy ANGELA BRANDT Independent Record Helena Independent Record

Just last week, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking warned about the existence of extraterrestrials, but it’s unlikely he had Matthew Kleindorfer in mind.

A SkyWest flight headed from Helena to Salt Lake City had to be diverted to Idaho Falls Sunday evening after Kleindorfer allegedly began banging on the cockpit door, saying he was a space alien and that he wanted to fly the plane. 

A flight attendant along with passengers restrained Kleindorfer, 32, of Las Vegas until the plane landed just before 6 p.m., according to Idaho Falls police.

The captain made the decision to divert the 50-passenger plane, flying at 29,000 feet about 60 miles north of Idaho Falls, police Sgt. Phil Grimes said.

A SkyWest spokeswoman said the plane was fully booked.

Keith Millburn was on his way home to California after visiting his family in Helena.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said in a phone interview Monday afternoon.

Kleindorfer talked with the flight attendant about 20 minutes into the flight and then pushed him to the side, Millburn said.

“He was trying to force his way in,” he added.

The flight attendant then yelled at the passengers for help. Millburn said before he was able to undo his seatbelt, another man had controlled the situation.

“The big cowboy came up and grabbed him,” Millburn said. “That cowboy saved the day for sure.”

The cowboy, Clay Cooper, a seven-time world champion in professional rodeo, said he grabbed Kleindorfer, put him in an empty seat and told him to stay put.

“I could tell something didn’t look quite right. I was getting a little bit concerned,” Cooper said.

The next thing Cooper knew, the plane had landed.

“It was kind of a different flight,” added Cooper, who was flying to his home in Stephenville, Texas, after teaching a roping course in Helena. 

Kleindorfer, who was loud and disruptive as police took him into custody, kicked an officer twice, Grimes said. He faces a felony charge of battery on an officer in addition to misdemeanor counts of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.

Additional charges pertaining to his actions on the plane are pending, Grimes said. 

He was in jail Monday afternoon in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

The FBI requested that Kleindorfer’s blood be drawn for a toxicology test, Grimes said. Police reports listed no indications that he was using drugs or alcohol.

According to Grimes, Kleindorfer was visiting a friend in Helena when he began acting bizarre. The friend was concerned and decided to fly back to Kleindorfer’s home in Las Vegas with him.

Police declined to release the friend’s name.

“The friend was basically escorting him home,” Grimes said.

The friend, who was not sitting next to Kleindorfer, told police he slept through the confrontation on the plane.

The flight, a Delta connection operated by SkyWest Airlines, then continued to Salt Lake City without further incident — from extraterrestrials or humans.

Reporter Angela Brandt: 447-4078 or angela.brandt@helenair.com

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. soslow
    Report Abuse
    soslow - May 11, 2010 2:38 pm
    KING I was not saying anything about this person not being punished or that what he did was okay. I am glad there were people on the plane that were there to protect the others on this plane and the man who made these statements. I am also grateful to those who are sacrificing their lives to fight for the safety of America. My point was the author of this story was making fun of this incident saying there was no further incident, extraterrestrial or human. This man sounds like he has a mental illness based on the statements from his friend who decided to fly home with him when he was acting strange. To make a statement like this when a story was featured on a young girl with mental illness is what I am upset about. Perhaps being a MSW makes me more sensitive to this. I am disgusted with the fact that May is mental health awareness month and still there is such sigma created about mental illness. I would hope a news media outlet would not perpetuate this type of stigma. Especially when they have had such good non-judgmental stories and a series about mental health facilities in the state. To make fun of someone with a probable mental illness in this way totally discredits the work that was done. Helena IR how about a follow up story on this incident? What was really behind all of this and the statements that were made?
  2. Nobama
    Report Abuse
    Nobama - May 10, 2010 9:08 am
    Must be one of those enemy combative domestic terrorists! Take him at once to the FEMA Death Camp!
  3. KING
    Report Abuse
    KING - May 09, 2010 6:41 pm
    to Purple and soslow you are both mental we should be thaking GOD for MR. Cowboy doing what he did and the CRIMINAL should suffer the full extent of the law for doing what he did. and Purple you should RESPECT PRESIDENT BUSH you dont see any of us saying that the CRIMINAL is suffering from OBAMA Derangement Syndrom OneBigAssMistakeAmerica. you all should respect the U.S.A and the GREAT PRESIDENT BUSH. GOD BLESS AMERICA and our TROOPS
  4. IceQueen
    Report Abuse
    IceQueen - May 05, 2010 11:25 pm
    BAH HA HA HA HA HA Ha this is F-ing hilarious! A plane flying to Montana with an alien trying to fly the plain, and Cowboy Cooper saving the day! someone needed to make a comic strip/scene for this!
  5. GreenMachine84
    Report Abuse
    GreenMachine84 - May 05, 2010 1:32 am
    So Purple you are suffering from the same I'm assuming because it takes one to know one. Anyway on the topic of the article I have to give props to the cowboy for stepping up to the plate. It is good to see people step up and protect their fellow beings. I hope the man can get the psychiatric help he needs as well.
  6. Inland Umpire
    Report Abuse
    Inland Umpire - May 04, 2010 3:46 pm
    If he is an alien, I wonder if the Arizona cops would've spotted him before he got on the plane.
  7. MrBeefy
    Report Abuse
    MrBeefy - May 04, 2010 1:54 pm
    soslow said: "How dare you poke fun at this incident writing, "The flight, a Delta connection operated by SkyWest Airlines, then continued to Salt Lake City without further incident — from extraterrestrials or humans." This man is probably suffering from a mental illness and you have the nerve to write such things. What is even more deplorable of your comment is that fact that there was a featured story on a young girl with a mental illness. You have taken what appears to be a compassionate story on young mental illness and made a mockery of it with your heartless comment. In the future this could be a story about this young girl with mental illness. Shame on you. "

    Relax! Looks like a political joke and a comment the guy was probably on drugs ....... but you were "soslow" you missed that. However not soslow to make something out of nothing.
  8. soslow
    Report Abuse
    soslow - May 04, 2010 1:04 pm

    How dare you poke fun at this incident writing, "The flight, a Delta connection operated by SkyWest Airlines, then continued to Salt Lake City without further incident — from extraterrestrials or humans." This man is probably suffering from a mental illness and you have the nerve to write such things. What is even more deplorable of your comment is that fact that there was a featured story on a young girl with a mental illness. You have taken what appears to be a compassionate story on young mental illness and made a mockery of it with your heartless comment. In the future this could be a story about this young girl with mental illness. Shame on you.

  9. MR Independent
    Report Abuse
    MR Independent - May 04, 2010 11:22 am
    Probably Meth!
  10. Purple
    Report Abuse
    Purple - May 04, 2010 7:59 am
    He was suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome.

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