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Relatives shocked to discover who was behind Air Canada scare

Worried, shocked and surprised!

These words best summed up the emotions of relatives of the man who created a scare onboard an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Barbados earlier this week.

So far police have only been able to say that the 66-year-old remains under medical observation.

However, Barbados TODAY investigations have further revealed that the man at the centre of the Air Canada scare is Barbadian-born Rodney Powlett, who has been living in Canada for over 40 years. He is currently detained
at the Psychiatric Hospital in Black Rock, St Michael, following Tuesday’s incident, which brought fear to the other 113 passengers and crew aboard Air Canada Flight 1966, which originated at Pearson International Airport.

However, police sources have indicated that given his current mental state, it was unlikely that he would face any criminal charges.


This image is of police removing Rodney Powlett from the Air Canada plane.

It was just about 90 minutes into the five-hour flight when Powlett, who was reportedly returning to the island to attend the funeral of a family member, started to display some strange behaviour, including muttering idle treats about the international terrorist group ISIS and about bombs, while carrying an unlit candle in his hand, according to eyewitness reports.

However, family members said the reports about Powlett, who has no mental history as far as they are aware, had taken them completely by surprise.

When Barbados TODAY visited the Fairview, Christ Church community where his first cousin Colvin Powlett resides, he revealed that his relative, who had migrated to Canada over four decades earlier, has three brothers and sisters and at least one daughter.

“We used to travel together when he was in Barbados and we were much younger,” said Colvin, adding that they were no longer as close as they used to be since Rodney had hardly travelled back home since moving to Canada.

In fact, the cousin said he couldn’t recall ever seeing Rodney back in Barbados since he left the island and they hardly had any contact while he was away.

However, 71-year-old Colvin remains concerned about his younger relative’s general welfare, as he awaits full details on his current medical condition.

He also expressed an interest in going to the Psychiatric hospital to visit him, saying the entire Air Canada ordeal had left him in a state of worry.

“To tell you the truth, I only heard about it yesterday [Wednesday] . . .  and it has me a little worried. Honestly it had me worried to know that Rodney carry on that kind of way, because I didn’t know him to be that type of guy,” the older relative said.

“When some person tell me that, ‘you hear who the person is that [responsible for the Air Canada scare]’, I said ‘no’,” said Colvin, who remains in a state of disbelief.

“The time that I did know him before he went to Canada he was a cool guy, but other than that I wasn’t in contact with him since he left Barbados,” he added.

However, he reported that only recently one of his sisters in the United States had told him that Rodney had visited her and “he didn’t look so good to her”.

George Powlett

George Powlett

In a separate interview with Barbados TODAY, Colvin’s younger brother George, who lives in Sargeant Village, Christ Church, said he was also surprised to learn what his cousin had done on the flight back home.

“My first impression [about] what has happened, I said, ‘no man, he is no terrorist or whatever,’” said George, suggesting that something would have had to have gone seriously wrong with him mentally.

“When I heard I said, ‘I know him in Barbados as a draughts man’,” he said, suggesting that ‘normally one would not associate Rodney with that sort of incident.

“So the question is, what caused him to [behave the way he did]?” asked George, who was concerned about his relative’s mental health and was also prepared to visit him.

He said he was yet to develop the courage to notify Rodney’s sister, who resides in Canada, of the developments.

“I felt a bit on the uneasy side to call her now. I would like to call her [to let her know] where he is and how he is doing and I will then tell her, ‘well, this is what I found out about him’,” said George, who suggested that the reason for his cousin’s visit back home was to attend his uncle’s funeral.

“His uncle is going to be buried some time this week, so I am saying he probably came to Barbados to go to the funeral, I don’t know. I figure he was coming for the funeral,” he said.

The burning question for him now though is, “what will happen to him after that [medical observation]?”

“I never thought about it what could happen, you know. I look at it now as one of these things that could happen to anybody now that it has come close to me now,” he told Barbados TODAY.

“At one time the Powletts were very close and there weren’t many. Then they have plenty now and I don’t see Powletts in the news with anything like that. So that was a shock to me to see the Powletts gone into [the news],” George said.

3 Responses to Relatives shocked to discover who was behind Air Canada scare

  1. darrelanderson
    darrelanderson June 17, 2016 at 3:15 am

    he seems nice…

  2. Joceline Blackett
    Joceline Blackett June 17, 2016 at 3:28 am

    It seems like he is suffering from the onset of dementia. Flying can sometimes trigger it off even more. It happened to a friend of mine dad, who was flying from London to Barbados. He was showing little signs of the illness before the holiday but by the time he touch down in Barbados he was in a bad way. He had to come back before his holiday ended. I am no doctor but I think this is what has happened to this gentleman. He should not be prosecuted he should be treated medically and with compassion. Hope all will go well for him soon.

  3. Nanci June 18, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I wonder if he will be allowed back on any flight, after he followed a passenger around, and made threats.


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