This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
At 2am on Thursday, 22-year-old Florida Institute of Technology student Nishal Sankat was caught attempting to steal a plane from Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB) in Florida.
According to USA Today, Sankat had pulled up to the passenger terminal and jumped the fence to the tarmac. He left his car abandoned and running on the other side as he proceeded to enter an out-of-service American Airlines Airbus — likely an A321, given its capacity that USA Today describes as up to 200 passengers. An avionics technician that was working in the galley of the plane immediately caught on to the fishy behavior, questioning Sankat before attempting to escort him into the main hangar facility to contact the police. However, Sankat made a break for it.
“The original employee plus our shift manager jumped in one of our golf carts and impeded his process from getting back to the airplane — he was heading back to the airplane,” STS Aviation Group President Mark Smith.
With the help of other maintenance employees, Sankat was held to the ground before his second run to the Airbus. The workers who were holding him down contacted the Melbourne Airport Police Department and Sankat was taken into custody by two policemen shortly after.
Following the incident, the airport was put on lockdown until 7am that morning. The Joint Terrorism Task Force, led by the FBI, is investigating Sankat, who was revealed to be an aviation management student from Trinidad and Tobago, as well as a student pilot at the time. He is currently facing charges of criminal attempt to steal an airplane.
Lori Booker, a spokesperson for Melbourne International, described the technician and his fellow maintenance workers as heroes. According to Booker, Greg Donovan, executive director of the airport, told the men, “I want you to know how very grateful we are for your heroic actions and quick thinking.” Last month, an airliner was stolen and crashed by a rogue employee at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Due to the help of a few astute individuals and their quick thinking, this incident never escalated to such a tragic extreme.
Featured image from Google Maps
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards