South Florida's Vanilla Ice aboard quarantined flight

'It was chaos,' rapper says after plane landed in New York

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor, Janine Stanwood - Anchor/Reporter

WELLINGTON, Fla. - South Florida rapper Vanilla Ice was onboard a Dubai to New York flight Wednesday morning when about a dozen people fell ill, causing the passengers to be quarantined for several hours on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

"I flew 14 hours into New York from Dubai, and basically it was chaos right when we landed," Vanilla Ice told Local 10 News reporter Janine Stanwood. "I look out the window and I'm like, 'Oh my Gosh.'  There's like hundreds of ambulances and cops and fire trucks and Secret Service and don't know what else."

He said it was so incredible that he said he "had to video it." Vanilla Ice posted the video to Twitter, attracting worldwide attention.

Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, lives in Wellington. Known for his 1989 hit "Ice, Ice Baby," Vanilla Ice has continued to perform, has worked as an actor and even starred in a home improvement show. 

Vanilla Ice said he was not affected by the illness because the sick people were seated on the lower level of the aircraft.

"On the airplane, I didn't know it was so serious. ... We had a double decker, which I was lucky because the entire upper deck was safe," Vanilla Ice said.

Health officials examined the more than 500 passenger onboard and determined about 180 people needed treatment.

"It felt like that scene from 'ET' when they're quarantined, you know. Like, all these people come in like hazmat and stuff," he said.

After about three hours, officials released the remaining passengers.

"They checked me thoroughly, everybody on the plane," he said.

Health officials did not disclose the illness, but New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the symptoms were "pointing to the flu."

Vanilla Ice managed to get back to Wellington by Wednesday evening. He said he missed his connection to Palm Beach International Airport so he took an Uber to make a flight at nearby Newark International Airport.

"I'm safe and I'm happy I'm home in Palm Beach, but what a crazy day," Vanilla Ice said.

Despite the air scare, the busy entertainer will be back on a plane Thursday.

"The story of my life," he said. "I'm going to have to be one of those people that walks around with a mask."

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