PHILADELPHIA – A 60-year-old man from France was arrested Wednesday after trying to impersonate a pilot and taking a seat in the cockpit of a plane that was about to depart from Philadelphia International Airport, police said.
Whether the man, identified as Philippe Jeannard, was engaged in a sinister plot or a mental flight of fancy was unclear, police said.
That he tried to impersonate a pilot on the plane was “definitely concerning,” Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives said Thursday.
Jeannard had a ticket for a US Airways flight to West Palm Beach, Fla. He wore a white Air France shirt and a black leather jacket with epaulets on the shoulders, Walker said.
About 6:20 p.m., Jeannard approached the boarding attendant and asked if any seats were available in the business-class section, Walker said.
Jeannard got into an argument with the boarding attendant, then proceeded onto the plane, Walker said. Once on board, he entered the cockpit and sat down in the jump seat behind the captain’s chair, Walker said.
The copilot asked for some paperwork that Jeannard, who claimed he was a 747 pilot with Air France, was unable to provide.
The boarding attendant saw Jeannard in the cockpit and together with the copilot told Jeannard to take his seat in the cabin, Walker said. They then called Philadelphia police assigned to the airport, and Jeannard was arrested.
Before he was taken into custody, Jeannard removed the epaulets from his jacket. Police recovered the epaulets, along with a counterfeit Air France crew member identification card, Walker said.
Jeannard was charged with criminal trespass, tampering with records, impersonating a privately employed person, and presenting a false ID to law enforcement. Police said he is expected to face federal charges.
Air France in a statement on Twitter said Jeannard does not work for the airline, that he was not wearing an Air France uniform and his identification card was “a very bad fake.”