Yesterday afternoon, a man was arrested after climbing onto, and subsequently falling from, the wing of an Alaska Airlines aircraft. The incident took place at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Nevada. The flight was bound for Portland International Airport (PDX) in Oregon. It returned to the gate for inspection after the occurrence, causing a lengthy delay.
According to Fox News, the man was not a passenger on the Alaska Airlines flight. Instead, reports suggest that he had approached the aircraft on foot as it prepared for its departure to Portland. It appears that he had climbed over a fence to access the airport.
2024 IOC Olympic Committee vote is in…along with breakdancing, we now have ‘Wingsurfing’…but no baseball. pic.twitter.com/AgijAd4DkM
— Brooke Knight (@SkipperBK13) December 13, 2020
Having walked up to the aircraft, the man, who Fox reports was “wearing what looks like khaki-colored sweatpants and a fanny pack,” then climbed onto its wing. He then crawled back and forth, and also paused to turn and face the flight’s bemused passengers. Some of those sitting on ‘A’ window seats on the left-hand side documented photos and videos of the event. The tweet above shows the pose in which the man faced the passengers
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) December 13, 2020
Shortly afterward, he shuffled towards one of the aircraft’s split-scimitar winglets. By this point, police had been called to aircraft. We can see in the above tweet that they had begun to pursue him at this stage. Having taken off his shoes, the man then attempted to climb up the winglet.
Before the officers could reach him, he lost his grip, slipping from the winglet and falling to the ground below. At this point, the police and fire service came to his aid. However, the extent of his injuries remains unclear. Nonetheless, the police arrested the man shortly afterward. Authorities have since disclosed that mental illness or impairment is likely to have played a role in the incident.
The flight in question
The flight involved in the incident was operated by Alaska Airlines, which recently joined the oneworld alliance. Flight AS1367 is a scheduled daily service between Las Vegas and Portland. According to FlightRadar24.com, it is scheduled to depart LAS at 12:30 local time (12:35 as of December 17th). With a flight time of just under two-and-a-half hours, arrival at PDX is scheduled for 14:58 (15:00 as of December 17th).
On December 12th, the date of the incident, the flight eventually departed over four-and-a-half hours late, at 17:04. This was because the aircraft had to return to the gate for inspection. Meanwhile, the airline co-operated with the authorities in their initial investigations into the incident. The flight made good time on its journey to Portland, eventually landing just over four hours behind schedule at 19:12.
The aircraft involved
The aircraft onto which the man climbed was a Boeing 737-900ER, bearing the registration N253AK. According to Planespotters.net, it has spent its entire working life with Alaska Airlines, having been delivered in August 2016. SeatGuru reports that the airline’s 737-900s sport a three-class configuration (16 first, 24 premium, and 138 economy seats).
FlightRadar24.com reports that the aircraft remains rostered to return to Las Vegas later today despite the occurrence and subsequent delays. It is set to operate flight AS602 back to the scene of the incident, departing Portland at 07:00 local time.
What do you make of this incident? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.