Ejected from the cockpit, JetBlue captain Clayton Frederick Osbon, 49, urged passengers to “say you prayers, say your prayers” as they restrained him while the flight made an emergency landing.

The captain’s co-pilot had locked him out of the cockpit when he made a trip to the toilet, following concerns about his behaviour.

When Osbon, a married father of one from Savannah, Georgia, and a JetBlue captain for 12 years, realised, he began screaming “let me in!’ and acting erratically.

A flight attendant urged passengers to restrain Osbon and four men pinned him down, while one passenger put him into a choke until he passed out.

Flight 191 from JFK to Las Vegas, which was packed with passengers going to an international security conference,  made an emergency landing at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. Texas.

Tony Antolino, a 40-year-old executive for a security firm, said the captain walked to the back of the plane, that he seemed disoriented and agitated, then began yelling about an unspecified threat linked to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Passenger Josh Redick, added: “He was irate. He was spouting off about Afghanistan and souls and al Qaeda”.

One witness told CBS: “He picked the wrong plane.  Huge guys just tackled him. The response was Olympics kind of stuff.”

Retired police officer Paul Babakitis, who was a passenger on the flight, said: “’I felt if he got in the cockpit, he was going to try to take that plane down, and not for a safe landing”.

The captain, who appeared to have suffered from a mental breakdown, was taken to Amarillo hospital after landing.