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Archive for Sunday, February 22, 2004

Unwelcomed passenger boards ISU charter plane

February 22, 2004

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About an hour after the Kansas University men's basketball team eked out a victory over Iowa State on Saturday, police were called to search the Cyclones' charter plane to make sure it was safe to board.

Pilots of the team's charter plane, from Fina Air of San Juan, Puerto Rico, told police a man who didn't have a ticket had climbed onto the plane while they were outside fueling. The cabin door was open.

"This guy just kind of helped himself on a plane," said Lloyd Hetrick, owner of Hetrick Air Services.

Lawrence Police responded at 6:32 p.m. and arrested a 28-year-old Lawrence man on two counts of criminal trespass and one count of disorderly conduct. They used dogs to search the plane but hadn't found anything suspicious as of 9:30 p.m., Sgt. Paul Fellers said.

The man had tried to board another plane at Lawrence Municipal Airport, but crew members stopped him before he made it inside, Fellers said.

Apparently, the Iowa State men didn't wait around to see the search results. They pulled into the airport on a bus about 7:30 p.m., Hetrick said. They left about five minutes after arriving and never came back, he said.

"I'm guessing they just took the bus on home," he said.

That's about a four and a half hour drive, according to MapQuest.com.

Fina Air has a policy of not flying a plane that has been boarded by a nonpassenger until the plane has been searched. That's why they called the police, Fellers said.

Unauthorized people sometimes will drive onto the Lawrence airport tarmac, Hetrick said, but no one has posed a threat in the 20 years he's owned Hetrick Air Services.

The Fina Air crew gave up waiting for clearance to go home. They decided to stay in a motel and fly out in the morning, Hetrick said.

Hetrick and Fellers said they didn't know if the suspect had known ahead of time that the plane would carry the Iowa State team. The suspect wasn't wearing any collegiate emblems that would indicate he was a fan of either team, they said.

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