BANGOR, Maine — A British woman who allegedly mixed prescription drugs and wine before drinking liquid hand soap and attacking flight attendants on a plane bound for London from Los Angeles made her first appearance Friday in U.S. District Court on air rage charges.
Galina Rusanova, 54, of London was charged with interference with a flight crew and assault after the plane on which she was a passenger was diverted to Bangor at about 9 p.m. Wednesday. She was arrested the next morning after spending the night at Eastern Maine Medical Center for observation, according to court documents.
In addition to hitting, kicking and punching flight attendants who tried to control her, the woman fell to the ground, began “snapping like a dog” and tried to bite the leg of a crew member, according to court documents.
The trouble reportedly began about three hours into the United Airlines flight. Rusanova appeared very intoxicated, according to the court documents, had trouble getting into her seat and kicked the seat in front of her.
She fell asleep for a short time, flight attendants told police. When Rusanova awoke, she began moving about the cabin, bothering passengers and speaking incoherently. She then drank a bottle of liquid hand soap that apparently came from a lavatory on the plane as a flight attendant looked on, according to the documents.
Rusanova reportedly started waving her arms when the flight attendant asked her to return to her seat. In an attempt to control the passenger, the flight attendant wrapped her arms around Rusanova and managed to get her to the galley of the plane, according to the documents.
At that point, other flight attendants and a passenger tried to calm Rusanova, but she allegedly assaulted them. After she fell on the floor and snapped at a flight attendant’s leg, crew members managed to handcuff her to a crew member’s seat at the rear of the passenger compartment, according to the documents.
In an interview with FBI agents after her arrest Thursday morning, Rusanova said she had traveled to California to meet a man she met over the Internet, according to the documents. She also told investigators that she was afraid to fly, so she took prescription pills and wine to calm herself.
On Wednesday’s flight, she reported taking sleeping pills and an antidepressant and drinking two or three small bottles of red wine once she had boarded the plane. She said she remembered going on and on about the seating and the quality of the wine, according to the documents, but little else of the flight.
“It’s typical of me. I sometimes do crazy things,” she allegedly said to agents.
Rusanova did not enter a plea Friday. A bail hearing is scheduled to be held Monday, but it is likely she will be held without bail until her case is resolved.
Information on a Web site bearing Rusanova’s name and a photo of a woman who resembles her states that she was born in Siberia. She worked in theater and radio in her home country of Russia and published children’s books there before moving to London in the late 1980s and becoming a British citizen.
About seven years ago, Rusanova took up painting. Her Web site showcases her many portraits of people and wildlife.
Rusanova told U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk on Friday that she lived on disability in Britain.
If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the interference charge and up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on the assault charge.