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SkyWest Airlines Flight Diverted after Alien Claim

A flight on SkyWest Airlines, the US-based carrier, from Helena to Salt Lake City was diverted to Idaho Falls on Sunday evening after passenger Matthew Kleindorfer, age 32 from Las Vegas, allegedly started banging on the door of the cockpit. While beating on the door, he was saying that he was a space alien and wanted to fly the aircraft.

A cabin crew member and other passengers on the flight restrained Kleindorfer until the aircraft landed shortly before 6pm, according to police in Idaho Falls. The captain decided to divert the flight, which 50 had passengers on board. A spokesman for SkyWest Airlines said that the flight was completely booked.

Keith Millburn, one of the passengers, described what happened, saying that he’s never seen anything like it. Kleindorfer talked to the flight attendant about 20 minutes into the flight, he said, and then pushed him aside, trying to force his way in the cockpit. After the steward yelled for help from the passengers, a big cowboy grabbed Kleindorfer, Millburn added, saving the day.

Clay Cooper, the cowboy, is a 7-time professional rodeo world champion. He said that he grabbed Kleindorfer and put him in an empty seat, telling him to stay there. The next thing he knew, Cooper added, the flight landed.

As police took Kleindorfer into custody, he was disruptive and loud, kicking an officer twice, according to Idaho Falls Police Sgt. Phil Grimes. The “alien” man now faces a felony charge of battery on an officer, as well as misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and disturbing the peace, while there are still other charges pending that pertain to his actions during the flight.

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