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Man drives onto Philadelphia airport runway as plane approaches [VIDEO]

Scott Levin's picture

There were some tense moments Thursday at the Philadelphia International Airport when an apparently drunk man crashed through a security fence and right into the path of an oncoming plane.

The scary incident has some questioning whether airport security needs to be tightened around the runways.

Kenneth Richard Mazik, a 24-year-old resident of Chadds Ford, Pa., forced the closure of the Philadelphia airport for a brief period. Mazik plowed his Jeep Cherokee through a fence just outside the airport's runways and reached high speeds as he approached grounded planes preparing to takeoff.

The real danger was above, however. An incoming plane was headed straight for the runway that Mazik had sped onto, creating a potentially disastrous situation. Luckily for everyone involved, security officials recognized the breach quickly and alerted the air traffic controller, who was able to divert the plane away from the runway. The plane was reportedly 15 seconds from reaching the ground.

Meanwhile, Mazik's joy ride continued until he was met by several police vehicles, and a brief high speed chase ensued. Mazik was apprehended shortly after and has been charged with aggravated assault, driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, defiant trespassing and criminal mischief.

With airports and airlines on high alert for terrorist activity, the sight of a car speeding on the runway was worrisome for many witnesses. Pilots on the ground spoke to the traffic controller during the ordeal, preparing a plan in case the situation escalated to something more serious. Fortunately, Mazik appears to have just been a rogue criminal and nothing more. No explosives were found in his SUV upon inspection.

Regardless, the incident caused a brief closure of the entire airport, as security officials ensured the threat had been squashed. The incoming plane, U.S. Airways Flight 3137 from Pittsburgh, was scheduled to arrive at 10:47 a.m. local time. After circling above the airport while Mazik was arrested, the flight made its landing at 11:54 a.m.

Philadelphia International Airport security officials maintain that the airport takes all the necessary safety precautions.

“We do have security perimeter checks on a regular basis, multiple times, every shift throughout the entire day, so we’re fairly confident with our security,” said Keith Prune, the airport's deputy director.

In this case, ground radar alerted security to the trespass. From there, the air traffic controller was made aware of the situation, while ground units responded to the runaway vehicle. The organization and communication helped keep the situation from taking a dangerous turn.

The airport and all of its runways fully re-opened around 4 p.m.

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Video Source: ABC News
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Comments

Submitted by Fisher1949 (not verified) on
This is the second time in a month. Same thing happened on February 10th. So after $60 billion spent on TSA someone can still take out a plane with a car. It's long past time that there is some common sense applied to airport security and stop with the TSA theatrics.

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