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Tue, Feb 10, 2004

A Higher Inflight Calling

American Airlines Pilot Plugs Christianity During Flight

Flying can often be thought of as a spiritual experience, but one American Airlines pilot is taking things a bit too far. The unnamed Captain recently asked Christians on his flight to identify themselves and suggested the non-Christians discuss the faith with them. The case was handed over to the airline's personnel department for an investigation, airline spokesman Tim Wagner said Sunday.

"It falls along the lines of a personal level of sharing that may not be appropriate for one of our employees to do while on the job," Wagner said .

American's Flight 34 was headed from Los Angeles to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on Friday when the pilot asked Christians on board to raise their hands, Wagner said. The pilot, whose name was not released, told the airline that he then suggested the other passengers use the flight time to talk to the Christians about their faith, Wagner said.

Passenger Amanda Nelligan told WCBS-TV of New York that the pilot called non-Christians "crazy" and that his comments "felt like a threat." She said she and several others aboard were so worried they tried to call relatives on their cell phones before flight attendants assured them they were safe and that people on the ground had been notified about the pilot's comments. The pilot also told passengers he would be available for discussion at the end of the flight. Wagner said the pilot had just returned to work from a week long mission trip to Costa Rica.

Because of privacy issues, there would likely never be any announcement about what kind of punishment or reprimand the pilot may face, Wagner said. The pilot was not scheduled to fly during the rest of the weekend, but it is safe to assume he went to Church on Sunday.

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