A student pilot who allegedly stole a single-engine Cessna in Connecticut and flew it while drunk is facing criminal charges in two states.
Philippe Patricio, 20, of Bethel, Conn., faces a felony charge of circumventing airport security in Danbury for the theft of the Cessna 172 used during the June 22 incident. Patricio told authorities he was able to enter the airport by crawling through a hole in the fence. Authorities later learned Patricio had taken lessons at a flight school on the field in 2002.
The joy ride came to an end when he landed on a taxiway at Westchester County Airport in New York. The arresting officer said empty beer cans fell out of the airplane when Patricio and his two teenage companions exited.
New York law enforcement officials say Patricio’s blood alcohol level was 0.15 — nearly double the legal limit for driving in New York state.
Patricio faces eight misdemeanor charges in Connecticut, including first-degree reckless endangerment, unlawful use of an aircraft, operating an aircraft under the influence and two counts of delivery of alcohol to a minor.
In New York, he faces felony charges of possession of stolen property and reckless endangerment, as well as a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. His teenage companions were not arrested.
As this issue was going to press, Patricio was being held on $1 million bail. His attorneys, who argue the bail is excessive, note that before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks all the charges would have been misdemeanors.
The theft prompted Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, as well as lawmakers at the federal level, to call for a review of security measures at airports around the country.