The co-pilot who took over JetBlue Flight 191 Tuesday after the captain suffered an apparent breakdown and was locked out of the cockpit is a quiet man who won't dwell on his actions, his relatives and friends said Thursday.
"Knowing my son, he would think that he's not a hero," Jean Beatrice Dowd said of Jason Dowd, 41, who lives in Salem, Ohio, with his wife and two young children.
"He was a typical American kid who always does the right thing. He lives by the rules and he always has. He just did what he was paid to do. That's just his job, and he loves his job."
Jean Dowd said her son called Tuesday night, hours after pilot Clayton Osbon had to be wrestled to the ground by passengers after leaving the plane's cockpit and acting erratically in the cabin. The plane left Kennedy Airport bound for Las Vegas.
She added that her son was exhausted and "mentally drained" after the ordeal. He was also interviewed by the FBI and was required to take drug tests.
A radio transmission of Flight 191 that captured part of the midair crisis and the declaration of an emergency was posted on the website Live ATC.
In it, the pilot then in command, believed to be Dowd, calmly tells an air traffic controller in Amarillo, Texas: "Amarillo, JetBlue 191, emergency." He later requests security, saying, "We're going to need authorities and medical to meet us at the airplane."
It is not clear if he explains the exact nature of the emergency -- or tells authorities it involves the flight's captain, Osbon. Dowd and an off-duty JetBlue captain flying in the main cabin safely landed the Airbus A320 in Amarillo. Earlier, Dowd convinced Osbon, who had begun yelling at air traffic controllers, to leave the cockpit. Dowd then locked him out.
Osbon was detained by passengers and crew who wrestled him to the cabin floor after he yelled what the FBI in an affidavit called jumbled comments about Jesus, Sept. 11, Iran, Iraq and terrorists. He also tried to re-enter the cockpit but Dowd had changed the security code.
Earlier, according to court papers, Osbon had declared: "We're not going to Vegas."
JetBlue has suspended Osbon, who was arrested in Amarillo by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy L. Drake in Amarillo said Thursday that Osbon is unlikely to make his first court appearance before early next week. He was charged with interfering with a flight crew.
The incident took place on a significant date for Dowd's family -- the 10th anniversary of the death of Jason Dowd's older sister, who died of cancer, Jean Dowd said.
"I know he was thinking of her, too, at the time this was all going on," Dowd said. The incident "has been earthshaking for us, too. To lose him would have been terrible for us."
Dowd's mother-in-law also said she wasn't surprised he acted cool under pressure. "I'm glad for those people he was the co-pilot that day," Ruth Ann Kostal told The Associated Press. "He's a great guy. . . . Thank God he was there."
Dowd, who was raised in Salem and graduated from Kent State's flight program, showed an early penchant for machines. He tinkers with motor vehicles as a hobby, his mother said.
CNN and The Associated Press identified Dowd as the first officer who took over the flight. Neither JetBlue nor Federal Aviation Administration officials have named the officer.
Others who know Dowd said they also were not surprised he acted heroically. "I'd certainly trust him," said Kathy Hendricks, a real estate agent who knows the family. "I'd want to be on a plane that he was the pilot."
With Zachary R. Dowdy, Marilyn Miller Paulk and John Valenti