Man Arrested For Refusing to Turn Off Electronic Equipment

Richard Calderoni was arrested after acting like a jerk on an airplane.

Richard Calderoni was arrested after acting like a jerk on an airplane.

Tampa Tribune (“Tampa man charged with disturbing Key West flight“):

Tampa man is under arrest after authorities say his disruptive behavior scared passengers on a flight to Key West.

Deputies and agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection met the Silver Airways flight at the airport tarmac Saturday. Fifty-year-old Richard Calderoni was handcuffed and taken into custody as other passengers cheered.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Calderoni was loud and used abusive language on the flight.

He reportedly refused to turn off his electronic equipment and at one point stretched his legs into the aisle blocking a female flight attendant’s path. He allegedly made a sexual gesture when she looked at him.

The pilot told investigators he considered turning the flight around but decided to call law enforcement instead.

Calderoni has been charged with disturbing the peace.

Presuming the facts laid out above are substantially current, Calderoni is a putz and deserved to be hauled off in handcuffs. Aside from violating federal law in interfering with “flight crew,” which flight attendants are when acting in their capacity as enforcers of FAA regulations and not their capacity as waitresses, he was abusive and could very well have led to the flight being turned around and other passengers missing their connecting flights and otherwise being inconvenienced. That’s just not good citizenship.

Then again, maybe he’s a modern version of the William “D-FENS” Foster character from the Joel Schumacher-Michael Douglas vehicle Falling Down from two decades ago–just a working stiff driven over the edge by the stupidity of the system.  I can’t explain to my 4-year-old why she has to shut off the iPad that keeps her contentedly occupied on flights beyond “those are the rules” and that she doesn’t have any choice but to comply if she wants to get to our destination. We all know it’s BS with no benefit whatsoever; hell, the pilots use iPads in the cockpit to do their jobs.

Still, as Sergeant Prendergast correctly points out, “that doesn’t give you any special right to do what you did today.”

via Robert Caruso

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    We should have special seating for people like that. On the wing.

    Not overlooking the wing… outside, on the wing proper.

    Seat belts available for an extra fee.

  2. David in KC says:

    Does the FAA need to change the rules on electronics? Yes. Do the flight attendants have any discretion on this? Nope. If you fly you follow the rules. And anyone that doesn’t treat the flight attendants with respect and common decency deserves to get off mid-flight.

  3. CSK says:

    A suggestion, James: Buy your daughter a small battery-operated DVD player. (They don’t cost much.) My six-year-old nephew has one, and he’s very content to watch his favorite movies on long flights.

  4. rudderpedals says:

    Insert Michael Reynolds’ “don’t be a dick” rule from the FISA thread here-> … <-

  5. al-Ameda says:

    Seems to me that that moron deserved to be arrested. Flying is tough enough without selfish narcissistic people refusing to follow the rules and cooperate with flight staff.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @CSK: Good idea. At 4-1/2, sitting through an entire movie is still a bit difficult for her. The iPad allows her to play games for 2-3 minutes each, frequently switching.

    @al-Ameda: Oh, definitely. I’ve had very minor run-ins with flight attendants, who often make up arbitrary rules in the “if it isn’t specifically permitted, it’s prohibited” vein. But I do what I’m told after expressing mild displeasure.

    D-FENS was a decidedly unlikable character; a sociopath, in fact. But you at least could identify with many of his frustrations, while not approving of his response.

  7. M. Bouffant says:

    As Congress’s only interest in air travel is ensuring the FAA has enough money during a “sequester” to keep flying Congresspeople from being inconvenienced or delayed, how are we to get these stupid & ridiculous rules & regulations changed other than by the civil disobedience this guy practiced?

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    how are we to get these stupid & ridiculous rules & regulations changed other than by the civil disobedience this guy practiced?

    Why don’t you just try not flying?

  9. pylon says:

    The Ipad and dvd player are no different under the rules, as long as the Ipad isn’t on send/receive. So you can save a movie onto it and watch it, or play games that are just on the ipad and not the internet.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    civil disobedience this guy practiced?

    Civil disobedience? He is a self-centered narcissist who didn’t mind holding everyone up while he indulged his petty wants. There is nothing especially wrong with him that 3 weeks of service at a Fast Food Drive Up Window wouldn’t cure.

  11. Grewgills says:

    @M. Bouffant:
    I MIGHT buy into the civil disobedience argument IF he hadn’t blocked the aisle and sexually harassed the flight attendant. He wasn’t just refusing to turn off his phone.
    That said even the send/receive functions on electronic devices would do nothing to interfere with the avionics or communications of the aircraft. The rules regarding them are ridiculous. Does anyone know why they were put in place?

  12. Grewgills says:
  13. roger says:

    Forget D-FENS, he was channelling Alec Baldwin.

  14. William Wilgus says:

    Mr. Joyner: the word ‘putz’ is offensive to many persons, particularly Jewish women. It is probably less offensive than ‘schmuck’ is to that same group, though. Applying comedian Jonathan Winters’ line, ‘If you have to be dirty to be funny, you aren’t funny’ to writing, I get ‘if you have to be dirty to write, you aren’t writing.’