Pilot Is Questioned After Asking Passengers to Talk About Religion

From a Times Staff Writer

An American Airlines pilot was being questioned Saturday for asking passengers on his Los Angeles-based flight to raise their hands if they were Christians, an airline spokesman said.

Rodger K. Findiesen of Annapolis, Md., then invited others to talk with those passengers about their religious beliefs during the 4 1/2-hour cross-country flight on Friday, spokesman Tim Wagner said.

Findiesen had recently visited a Christian mission in Costa Rica, Wagner said.

“I guess he was moved by the experience and wanted to share his emotions,” the company spokesman said.


Wagner said airline officials had interviewed Findiesen about the incident aboard Flight 34 and had “already begun an investigation into it.”

“It is a question of whether his judgment was appropriate while on duty,” Wagner said, unsure of what company rules the pilot might have broken.

The guidelines “all boil down to just showing respect for our customers and employees,” he said, “and making sure everyone feels comfortable on our flights.”

Findiesen wouldn’t comment on the incident Saturday, referring calls to airline officials.

The pilot told airline officials he made the comment as his Boeing 767-200 passenger plane was taking off from Los Angeles International Airport about 8 a.m., Wagner said. When other crew members received inquiries from some passengers, Findiesen told them he would be available to respond after the flight landed Friday afternoon at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

At least one passenger complained to a television station in New York City.

“At the moment, I do not know of any official complaints from passengers on board,” Wagner said.