Plane ‘hijacker’ who threatened to crash into supermarket faces terror charges

The suspect in a plane hijacking which put a US state on red alert today faces terror charges, despite withdrawing his threat to crash while still mid-air.

Police said a man .

He eventually landed safely in a rural area after more than four hours terrifying people on the ground.

Police have named the suspect as Cory Wayne Patterson and said he faces charges of grand larceny and making terrorist threats.

Investigators revealed he works at Tupelo Airport and has previously had some flying lessons but does not hold a licence.

Local police chief John Quaka said Patterson could also face federal charges but revealed he agreed to come down without hurting anyone.

He told a press conference Patterson stole the plane from the airport he works at and called 911 threatening to crash it shortly after 5am local time.

Negotiators intervened and convinced him to land but he lacked the flying training to do so safely at the airport.

Pilots on the ground coached him over the radio on how to bring the plane down safely in a field and he managed to do so without injuring himself or others.

The plane was pictured flying low above Mississippi and its pilot threatened to crash into a Walmart (Picture: Twitter)
Suspect Cory Wayne Patterson is employed at the local airport but does not hold a pilot’s licence (Picture: Facebook)
Police revealed he agreed to return to the ground without hurting anyone after making the initial threat (Picture: Facebook)
Flight data reveals the erratic path taken by the pilot over around four hours (Picture: Reuters)

Tupelo mayor Todd Jordan said he hopes Patterson ‘will get the help he needs’ and didn’t intend to hurt himself or others in the hours after the initial threat.

Mr Quaka said Patterson, on his Facebook page, posted what was in essence a goodbye message at about 9:30 a.m.

It read: ‘Sorry everyone. Never wanted to actually hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn’t your fault. Goodbye.’

People were earlier told to stay away from a Walmart in Tupelo, with authorities revealing a threat against had been made.

Police warned people across the area to be aware of the threat, saying earlier: ‘With the mobility of an airplane of that type the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo.’

The aircraft involved was a white Beechcraft King Air twin engine plane, which is capable of carrying seven people, has a wingspan of 50ft and weighs over three tonnes.

Michael Canders, director of a New York flight school, called the incident ‘a wake-up call’ for general aviation airports and their staff.

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