Flight Attendant Sets Bathroom On Fire So He Could Play Fake Hero

When I tell a good story, I like to start at the very beginning, relaying as much of the back story as possible. I like to recount the details slowly and precisely, building suspense; engaging the audience as much as possible while creating a crescendo with words. Culminating with a magnificent climax and slowly descending into an epilogue…

Not this time. This story is so bizarre that I have to begin at the end and work my way backwards.

Here we go.

Johnathan Tafoya-Montano, a 23-year-old flight attendant from Texas was arrested by the FBI for starting a fire on a plane.

Now, I know you must be saying to yourself, it was probably some sort of freak accident. A fire in the meal prep area. Or, maybe Johnathan just had to have a cigarette and tried smoking in the lavatory. The plane hit some turbulent air, he dropped the cigarette, which ignited some toilet paper and WOOSH–a tiny inferno ensued. Better yet, maybe he accidentally overloaded an electrical circuit. Sparks began to fly and the hair extensions of a nearby flight attendant were ignited. The list of possibilities is endless.

It was later determined that Johnathan intentionally started the fire. Using a Bic lighter, he set paper towels in the lavatory on fire.

I hear the questions. Why would he do that? Was he attempting to destroy evidence of some sort? Was he trying to create a diversion to disguise a more nefarious and devious plot? Maybe there was a group of air bandits and they were going to take over the plane and Johnathan was forced to assist them by starting a fire. Or, the worst thought we all hate to admit we thought when we read he did it on purpose—maybe he was a terrorist. All of those theories are somewhat plausible and logical, to a degree. Unfortunately, the truth is not.

After setting the paper towels on fire, Johnathan quickly put out the flames. He exited the lavatory and stood in the walk way for a moment. He then began alerting others to the fire and jumped in to action by grabbing a nearby fire extinguisher and blasting the smoldering paper towels.

So, if you are like me, those three little words have crept into your mind—WTF? At this point, I have quit guessing. I am out of plausible scenarios, so let’s just finish the story…

After the fire had been extinguished, the flight captain was notified and he contacted the control tower alerting them to the situation. The plane was able to make an emergency landing at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The plane landed safely and none of the passengers were injured. Johnathan was hailed a hero for his quick response to the crisis which could have turned deadly.

A month later, Johnathan Tafoya-Montano was arrested and charged with “destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities” and making “false statements or entries generally.” Also, under the conditions of his bond he can no longer fly without permission from the court. It took several rounds of questioning before Johnathan broke down and recanted all of the false statements he made and admitted that he had purposely started. The FBI still do not have a motive for why Johnathan did it.

Again, WTF?

Here is where I have to leave you with your own thoughts. I cannot even begin to concoct any type of reasonable explanation for Johnathan’s actions and apparently, neither can he. I guess he was so desperate to be a hero and to stand amidst adoring and grateful fans that he would go so far as to set a fire on an airborne plane filled with passengers. The story is odd and funny but it could have ended tragically.

Johnathan Tafoya-Montano is famous and he is definitely being discussed. It is my sincere hope that whatever was lacking in his soul has somehow been filled and that he will never again be that desperate for a win.

Featured image by Oliver Holzbauer via Flickr, available under a Creative Commons license.

Denise is currently a writer and editor for a federal agency in Washington, DC. Prior to that she served as an elementary and middle school teacher in Charleston, SC. She is an open-minded free spirit always read for new adventures. She enjoys traveling and relishes being exposed to alternate points of view. She is passionate about what she does and does everything passionately. Faith, family and finances are the core of her value system. She follows her own path and marches to her own beat. She is a dream chaser and with her husband and best friend by her side, she plans to take over the world.