A 61-year-old named Philippe Jernnard LaRocelle boarded a flight in Philadelphia as a ticketed passenger dressed in what appeared to be an Air France pilot’s uniform, and managed to talk his way into a jump-seat behind the captain’s seat. Since the man did not have any credentials to verify his Air France employment, he was asked to leave the cockpit and law enforcement was alerted.
Police found Air France decals and a fake crew badge in his bags – leading to criminal trespassing, breaking into a structure, forgery-alter writing, tampering with records or ID, false impression and false identification to law enforcement charges (plus a $1 million bail).
The stunt bears a passing resemblance to what Frank Abagnale did in the 1960s when he impersonated a Pan Am pilot and was able to fly around the world to 26 countries seated in the cockpit’s jump seat. His adventures were turned into a Broadway play and movie entitled: Catch Me if You Can.
Terry Maxon, the blogger behind the Dallas Morning News’ Airline Biz Blog, suggested asking the following questions to spot a fake pilot:
Question: How much does the USA Today newspaper cost?
Correct answer: “I don’t know. I’ve never bought one.”
Question: Do you have a pen from a hotel?
Correct answer: “Yes. Here it is.”
However, he got an email from a pilot suggesting to ask this question:
Question: How many “slam-clicks” did you have at your last overnight stay?
Answer: Depends on the pilot, but the pilot’s a fake if he or she looks bewildered.
According to the pilot’s email, you just need to ask a pilot (assuming it’s a “male” pilot!) how many “slam-clicks” he had amongst his flight attendant crew on their last overnight stay somewhere; but if the “pilot” asks what a slam-click is, he’s an imposter:
Every true airline pilot knows that a ‘slam-click’ is a flight attendant that declines to take in the town with the pilots and other flight attendants while on a scheduled overnight stay somewhere. They prefer to stay in their hotel room, closing the door (slam) and then locking it (click).”
With that said, are there any other ideas about how to spot a “fake pilot”?