On Tuesday, Turkish resident Anil Uskanli pled guilty to interfering with the flight crew during a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles. Travel + Leisure reports that Uskanli remembers running down the aisle of the plane and chasing after what he believed was a butterfly that emerged from a seat-back pocket.
In reality, he was covered in a blanket, holding a laptop, and sauntering into the cockpit. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Brady, the crew thought that he might have had explosives, since his behavior was so strange.
"The butterfly went crazy [...] flew into the toilet," Uskanli said in Honolulu federal court. "I followed it. I tried to kill it by punching it."
After the erratic behavior, an off-duty officer escorted Uskanli back to his seat for the duration of the trip. Outside, Hawaii National Guard fighter jets were called to accompany the plane to California. He was taken into custody when the plane landed without incident.
T+L adds that he checked into the flight without any luggage and police reported that his breath smelled of alcohol. Before the flight, he was arrested for opening a door to a restricted area, but authorities said that he was "not drunk enough to be charged with public intoxication."
Since the arrest, Uskanli says that he wasn't well during the flight and that the entire thing was actually a vivid hallucination. He was in the United States on a student visa, but it has been revoked now that he's not attending any school. His immigration lawyer, Gary Singh, notes that Uskanli plans to return to Turkey in order to receive treatment.
According to the Chicago Tribune, he could face a fine of $250,000 and up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutors don't intend to push for Uskanli to have any additional time in jail.
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