Flight Rage Folk Hero

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 9:45am

JetBlue flight attendant wins fans with dramatic exit.

Two different accounts are emerging from the JetBlue plane incident that led a flight attendant to lose his cool, curse passengers and flee the grounded plane by using the emergency exit chute.

Many in the public are heralding Steven Slater a hero, but he now faces up to seven years in prison.

Slater appeared in court Tuesday to face charges of reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and trespassing.

A judge set bail at $2,500, but Slater has yet to post it.

Police say Slater became angry at a rule-breaking passenger after being hit in the head by overhead luggage and went on a profanity-laced rant over the plane's P.A. system.

Following the arraignment Slater's defense attorney said his client was under stress because his mother has been diagnosed with cancer.

He also says problems on the flight started in Pittsburgh before takeoff when two passengers were arguing over space in overhead bins and one cursed at Slater.

"I don't understand why that type of conduct among the public is accepted as proper," Attorney Howard Truman said.

The veteran flight attendant apparently was so angry he was willing to jettison his career with the airline, telling passengers "It's been great" before he opened the emergency exit chute, grabbed two beers, slid down the chute and drove home.

For many Slater's actions are being hailed as a victory over unruly passengers.

"People can be you know, abusive to airline attendants, I just feel, you know, sorry for the guy," said one of Slater's neighbors.

Several Facebook pages have emerged showing support and calling to free Slater, but now it could be up to a jury of his peers to decide if his tirade stepped over the legal line.
 

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