NEW YORK, Ny. (NBC NEW YORK) — An unhinged passenger aboard a flight heading to Newark caused quite a stir in the sky after barreling into the cockpit's door and viciously attacking an attendant who tried to stop him, according to authorities and witnesses.
The United Express flight from Dulles International Airport was about to touch down in New Jersey when Matthew Dingley's erratic behavior started making everyone on board very nervous. Dingley allegedly got out of his seat and made a beeline for the door of the cockpit.
"This guy was in a full sprint, right up to the cockpit, hits the cockpit, starts banging on it," said Mike Egbert, who was sitting in the second row aboard flight 4965 from D.C. to Newark.
Shortly after, a flight attendant tried to intervene — but Dingley then turned his attack to the much smaller woman, beating her incessantly, according to Egbert.
"A slight woman, petite, and this guy was clocking her," Egbert said. That's when he and others on the flight stepped in to help. Thankfully, one of the other passengers appeared to have some sort of law enforcement experience and was able to step in to get the situation under control.
Once the plane was on the ground outside Terminal C, Port Authority Police say Dingley charged at officers, one of whom fell down the plane's stairs and broke four ribs. Stunned passengers could only look on at the crazed man's rampage.
"He picks up a police officer, throws the police officer...his back," Egbert said. "If he did actually get into that cockpit lord knows what would have happened."
Six officers were injured in the scuffle, though all are expected to recover. The flight attendant was released from the hospital, and Egbert called her a hero in her own right.
The 28-year-old Dingley faces a slew of charges for the violent outburst, including aggravated assault and resisting arrest. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
This was not Dingley first run-in with the law, however. He was arrested in 2016 after leading police on a chase in North Carolina, and was found guilty of DWI in New York the following year.