A Florida College student was arrested after boarding a parked aircraft early on Thursday, Sept. 19th, for allegedly trying to steal it.
Nishal Sankat, a 22-year-old student at Florida College, was taken into custody on September 19th after allegedly attempting to steal a parked aircraft at Orlando Melbourne International Airport. Aircraft technicians were aboard the plane performing maintenance and were luckily able to thwart the attempt.
Some planning must have been involved in the attempted heist as Sankat arrived at the airport in the early hours of that morning. After leaving his red Toyota Sedan at the airport’s arrivals area, he jumped the security fence and made his way to a parked American Airlines Airbus. He then boarded the plane at approximately 2 AM.
Melbourne International Airport is closed until further notice due to police activity. ALL flights suspended at this time. Please avoid the area and we will update you with more information. @MelbourneFL— Melbourne Police (@MelbournePolice) September 20, 2018
It’s uncertain what would have happened had an employee not caught Sankat as he boarded. The employee was performing routine maintenance when he spotted Sankat and questioned him. When he failed to answer, the employee brought Sankat to the main hangar and called his shift supervisor. After the supervisor’s questions were also unanswered, Sankat made a break for it back to the parked Airbus.
The shift supervisor and original employee were able to grab a nearby golf cart and once again thwart his attempt to board the plane. The police were then called, arriving approximately 2 minutes later, and arrested Sankat.
All incoming air traffic to Melbourne was blocked and the airport was placed on lockdown. Sankat’s car was also inspected by a police bomb squad. FBI Investigators later arrived to further inspect the car as well as the Airbus and Sankat’s apartment.
So far, Sankat has been charged with criminal attempt to steal a plane, criminal trespassing, and violating his student visa. No weapons or explosives were found at his apartment.
What is so far confounding investigators is the complete lack of motive, or even a plan beyond getting aboard the Airbus. Both Melbourne Police and the FBI have questioned Sankat and have yet to find any reasons for the attempted heist. Connections to terrorist groups have been ruled out.
Or we can chalk this up to just another Florida Man story.