An airport worker in Mississippi stole a twin-engine plane Saturday morning and threatened to crash it into a local Walmart before being arrested. No one was injured in the incident.
Tupelo police say Cory Wayne Patterson was arrested after he landed a Beechcraft King Air C90 in a rural field following his joyride. Officials say it was a “best-case scenario” considering that Patterson was inexperienced but able to safely land the aircraft.
According to CNN, Patterson had some flight instruction, though police say they do not believe he is a licensed pilot. He is believed to lack the experience to land a plane. They said that part of the investigation is continuing.
Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka told a press conference that the plane was stolen in the early morning hours Saturday. The suspect reportedly worked at Tupelo Aviation and fueled aircraft, which granted him access to the planes.
Patterson called 911 while he was flying in the early morning hours, telling authorities that he was going to crash the plane into the West Main Walmart in Tupelo. That store and surrounding areas were evacuated, and the hijacker continued flying.
Currently we have a 29yr old who stole this plane & is threatening to crash it into something. Polices ,ambulances ,& fire trucks are everywhere. Everything is shutdown rn pic.twitter.com/AzebdIa3tP
— City King (@CityKing_Gank_) September 3, 2022
Negotiators talked to Patterson and convinced him not to follow through with his threat to crash into the store. At that point, Patterson was assisted by a pilot who tried to talk him through landing at the Tupelo Regional Airport, but he aborted the final approach and flew on.
The flight lasted over four hours.
CNN reports that, as he was obviously running out of fuel, Patterson posted a “goodbye” on Facebook. The post read: “Sorry everyone. Never wanted to actually hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister and this isn’t your fault. Goodbye.”
Authorities lost radar contact with the plane, but when contact was re-established, it was discovered that he had successfully landed in a field. Patterson was arrested and charged with grand larceny and making terroristic threats.
Transportation officials say that Saturday’s scenario is the reason annual training for airport workers is required. Trainers say that the emphasis is on if you “see something, say something.”