The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Imposter pilot takes to the skies from Germany to Italy

Have you ever wished that your life could be like a movie? An Italian man recently starred in his own sequel to the movie “Catch Me If You Can.”

In April, the 32-year-old man used false identification and a pilot’s uniform to sneak into the cockpit of an Air Dolomiti flight from Munich, Germany, to Turin, Italy. It has been widely reported that the man did not even have a ticket to board the aircraft.

Police arrested the man in the Turin airport on Sept. 22 after searching for him for months.

When the man snuck onto the plane, he told the pilots his name was “Andrea Sirlo and even set up a phony Facebook page complete with fake flight attendant friends,” reported Melanie Eversley for USA Today.

“On his Facebook profile, the man also falsely bragged he was a commercial pilot and claimed he was promoted to captain’s rank while still young,” France D’Emillo reported for the Toronto Star.

While in the air, two trained and certified pilots flew the plane and the imposter did not touch the controls. It is unknown as to whether he used the same technique to sneak onto other flights, or if he was planning on doing so the day of his arrest.

When found by police, he was wearing clothes that resembled a pilot’s uniform, but without any company logo. Eventually he led police to his stash of similar clothes and fake ID cards.

Police issued a statement announcing that the man has been cited as a security risk and is being charged with, among other things, “usurping a title.” For now though, he remains a free citizen while the investigation continues.

Christoph Meier, a spokesperson for the German airline Lufthansa, the parent airline to Air Dolomiti, has acknowledged the situation, but denies that the man could have boarded the plane without some kind of ticket.

This still does not explain how the man managed to get into the cockpit and co-pilot the airplane for the duration of the flight. No one seems to have an answer as to how this man successfully entered the plane and, even more impressively, posed as a pilot.

Until the completion of the investigation, these questions will remain unanswered.

The situation, however, raises concerns for people who fly regularly.

“That’s pretty terrifying to think about. I fly pretty often, so I’m not a nervous flyer and I know emergency procedures, but that makes me pretty nervous,” said first-year Liz Harrison, who flew from England to the U.S. this past June.

“That would be very disturbing actually,” said junior Saima Noorani. “First of all, (you’re) supposed to be a pilot to be in the cockpit. If for some reason the actual pilot can’t control the plane, it’s his responsibility.” Noorani concluded, “If he can’t control the plane, that jeopardizes everyone’s life on the plane.”

Although Leonardo DiCaprio made this story look glamorous on the silver screen, this real-life sequel does not bode as well with critics.

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About the Contributor
Allison DeBusk, Editor-in-Chief
English and Political Science majors,  American History minor
Allison loves coordinating all of the different parts of the newspaper and getting to see the words, photos, graphics and videos all combine to make one product. She also loves serving the Guilford community and reflecting the feelings and perspectives of our community. She always wears pink on Wednesdays.

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