February 7, 2009

Police: Man faked plane crash at Plattsburgh International


PLATTSBURGH — A Vermont man is facing charges after he allegedly faked a plane crash at Plattsburgh International Airport and disrupted a commercial-flight landing.

According to the Clinton County Sheriff's Department, Nicholas Santo was recently taking off from the local runway in a private Cessna as an inbound Cape Air flight from Boston prepared to land.

As the commercial plane full of passengers approached, the runway lights were intensified for the impending landing.

But as the large aircraft neared, Santo began radioing in that the runway lights were blinding and claimed they were being used improperly, causing his plane to crash and veer into a snowbank, where it flipped over.

The report of the crash diverted the Cape Air flight and sent emergency personnel and sheriff's deputies searching for the wreckage.

Soon, they determined there had never been a crash and that the Cessna took off without incident.

The Cape Air flight landed safely a short time later.

This week, deputies charged Santo with a felony count of second-degree falsely reporting an incident and second-degree aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor.

The 50-year-old Burlington man was released from custody after his arrest and will appear in Plattsburgh Town Court later this month to face the charges.

The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Aviation Administration and airport management also assisted in the investigation.

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