Fact Check

Airport Granny

Did an 83-year-old grandmother beat up six airport security guards?

Published May 28, 2002


Claim:   An 83-year-old grandmother beat up six airport security guards.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2002]

Grandma Beats Up Airport Security Guards

Charges were dropped yesterday against Ruth "Grammy" Gordon, an 83-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother, who was originally charged with assault and battery, and assault with a deadly weapon, because an altercation she had last week with six airport security guards, that left all six hospitalized.

"Justice has been served," said the 95-pound mother of three and grandmother of six, as she sat in her wheelchair, aided in her breathing by an oxygen bottle. "Now I’m going to sue every fool in the federal government for ignorance, stupidity, and just plain general incompetence. I’m an American, and I won’t be treated like this" ...

The problem began last month as Gordon was attempting to board an airplane at the R.J. Squirrel Airport in Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. "These

guys are supposed to be some kind of professionals," she said, "but they're dumber than rocks. Here they were letting guys who looked just like terrorists walk through without searching them, and then they pull me aside and tell me they're going to search me? I don't think so."

According to one witness, Bud Cort of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, one guard, "who weighed about 300 pounds, looked like he was drunk, and had his shirt out, told this woman she couldn't board the plane unless they searched her. He was really rude. That's when the trouble started."

Videotapes showed that Gordon ran the guard down with her motorized wheelchair, then sat on top of the screaming man while spinning her chair in circles. "Doofus was so fat he couldn't get up," said Gordon with a giggle.

One guard who attempted to pull Gordon's wheelchair off of the screaming man from behind was hit over the head with an oxygen bottle and knocked unconscious. A third guard, who approached Gordon from the front, was also left dazed on the floor. Witnesses said she was cackling, "Put your hands on an old lady, will you?" as she bashed both guards.

The tape also showed a fourth guard attempting to grab Gordon's wheelchair. Gordon removed a knitting needle from her purse and stabbed him in his left buttock. "What a wimp," she told reporters. "He started screaming and grabbing his butt and running like a puppy that someone kicked."

"It was amazing," said another witness, Scott Ryan, also of Cuyahoga Falls, a professor of music at Ohio Express University and author of Yusef Islam: Cat Stevens Declawed. "The whole crowd just stood there cheering and clapping. I mean, she was whupping butt."

A fifth guard that attempted to grab Gordon had the seat of his pants set on fire with a cigarette lighter than had escaped detection. "He just went whoosh across the concourse, screaming and slapping at all these flames flying out of his rear," said Ryan.

A sixth guard did finally manage to get Gordon in a body hug. "I think that was the wrong thing to do," said another witness, who declined to be identified. "She just grabbed him by his greasy hair with one hand and cracked him across the jaw with her skinny fist. And down and out he went."

After all this, Gordon's chair was still sitting on top of the first guard. The tapes clearly showed her leaning over and yelling, "Apologize to me, you fat sumbitch, or when I?m done with you you?ll just be a greasy spot on the floor!"

As the crowd roared, the guard cried, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Uncle! I won't do it again!"

Finally, Gordon surrendered without further incident, and was taken to jail and released on her own recognizance. "We didn't have any choice," said an unidentified officer of the court. "Over 200 people showed up to support her. I think if we had demanded bail, there would have been a riot."

Over 20 lawyers offered to defend her for free. However, realizing the precariousness of the case, Gordon was not charged with anything. "I doubt there's a jury in the whole country that would have found her guilty of anything," said one of the lawyers.

"I'm flying again tomorrow," Gordon told reporters. "And I suggest no one at the airport so much as look at me wrong."

All six guards, employees of the Bullwinkle Security Company, were taken to Badanov Hospital, treated for minor injuries, and released. "All of them are okay," said their doctor, who identified herself only as Natasha. "Just very minor injuries."

The owner of the security firm, a Mr. Big, said he considered his employees to be "fearless leaders."

Origins:   The more stringent screening procedures implemented at airports since the September 11 hijackings have resulted in


delays, long lines, and a great deal of frustration all around, with many complaints having been lodged by passengers about seemingly nonsensical screening procedures and abusive treatment at the hands of overzealous security personnel. So, it's not surprising that a wish fulfillment type of tale involving a 95-pound, 83-year-old "wheelchair-bound grandmother" who single-handedly "beats up" and hospitalizes six airport security guards, would gain currency — even if it does sound too improbable to be true.

In this case, the tale is more than improbable — it's a bit of pointed fiction invented by writer Bob Wallace (and identified on his archive page as a "traveler's daydream"). If the numerous "Bullwinkle" references (R.J. Squirrel Airport; Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, Bullwinkle Security Company, Badanov Hospital, Natasha) don't give this away, here's an additional clue: the only two names mentioned in the piece, Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort, are also the names of the two stars of the 1971 film Harold and Maude.

Last updated:   18 March 2007

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.