The hijacker's plane circles the Mississippi (file photo) Mississippi Plane Crash Threat Cleared
The man who hijacked the plane and threatened to crash into Walmart landed it safely with help from ground negotiators
The pilot of the small plane that threatened to crash into Walmart in Mississippi landed without any injuries, local authorities said Saturday.
Earlier, the Tupelo, Mississippi Police Department said they spoke directly to the pilot and evacuated the Walmart and gas station.
Tupelo Police Chief John Kuaka said at a press conference that Corey Wayne Patterson stole a Beechcraft King Air C90A from Tupelo Regional Airport, took off early Saturday morning, called 911, and then threatened to crash the plane. Patterson did not have a pilot's license, but had completed flight training and worked for Tupelo Aviation, refueling aircraft, which gave him access to aircraft.
Patterson is in custody and charged with grand theft size and terrorist threats, Kuaka said, adding that federal charges also await Patterson.
The negotiators communicated with Patterson by radio, convinced him not to carry out the threat and land at the airport. Patterson had no landing experience and another pilot tried to teach him. The negotiators kept in touch and, as a result, the plane landed safely.
Kuaka said that Patterson posted what was essentially a “farewell note” to his Facebook page around 9:30 am.
“Sorry everyone. Never wanted to actually hurt anyone. I love my parents. Sister, it's not your fault! Goodbye,” the message read.
Michael Kanders, Director of the Aviation Center at NY State's Farmingdale College, called the incident a “wake-up call” for general aviation airports and their staff.
< p>The drama in the skies over Tupelo unfolded as tens of thousands of American football fans headed north Mississippi for Saturday football games at the University of Mississippi at Oxford and the University of Mississippi at Starkville. Tupelo is located between these two cities.