Saturday, September 03, 2022

Beechcraft C90A King Air, N342ER: Incident occurred September 03, 2022 at Tupelo Regional Airport (KTUP), Lee County, Mississippi

Southeast Aviation LLC


Cory Wayne Patterson 



OXFORD, Mississippi (WTVA) — A federal grand jury this week indicted a man from Lee County accused of stealing a plane and threatening to crash it into one of the Tupelo Walmarts.

Cory Wayne Patterson faces two counts: threatening to damage, destroy, disable and wreck a civil aircraft and then actually doing that with the plane.

A conviction on both counts would get Patterson a combined 25 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine.

Law enforcement arrested Patterson on September 3 after he took off in a plane from the Tupelo Regional Airport and flew it wildly over North Mississippi for hours until it went down in a field in Tippah County.

Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said Patterson called 911 early in the flight and threatened to crash the plane into the Walmart on West Main Street.

Patterson also faces state charges in connection with that flight.
 
Cory Wayne Patterson


TUPELO, Mississippi – A 29-year-old Shannon man faces state charges of grand larceny and making terrorist threats after he stole an airplane from Tupelo Regional Airport and threatened to crash it into a Walmart.

Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said federal officials were also considering four or five additional charges against Cory Wayne Patterson, who took a Beechcraft King Air C90A King at approximately 5 a.m. Saturday before calling 911 and threatening to crash it.

Quaka said negotiators convinced Patterson to land the plane with the assistance of a pilot over the radio, but during the descent onto the runway, the man aborted the landing and flew north toward Ripley. Quaka said he could not say why Patterson aborted the landing.

After more than four-and-a-half hours, Patterson finally crash landed the plane in a field in Tippah County.

Tippah County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Josh Bateman said Tippah and Benton County deputies took Patterson into joint custody at the scene of the plane's landing behind Gravestown Volunteer Fire Department, which is located about five miles west of Ripley near the Benton County line.

After being held in the Tippah County Jail for a short time, Tupelo police transported Patterson back to Lee County.

Bateman said he is unsure of additional charges from Tippah County. Officials there are researching state statutes to see if they will file further charges.

Bateman said the FAA is sending investigators to look over the plane before it can be removed from the field.

At this time, no motive is known for Patterson's theft of the plane or his threats.

“It is an ongoing investigation,” Quaka said. “That is going to take some time to determine. Those are always the last things we learn in an investigation. We will run down the motivation. We pursue any angle and avenue that there is, and we will work in conjunction with the FBI to do so.”

Patterson was a 10-year employee of Tupelo Aviation Unlimited, the fixed-based operator at Tupelo Regional Airport. Patterson was a lineman for TAU, which means he fueled the planes.

During the flight, negotiators, his mother, sibling and others communicated with Patterson, according to Quaka.

Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Joseph Wheeler told the Daily Journal he knew and spoke with Patterson often.

“I thought my guys were messing with me, especially after they said the name. I would think I would do it before he did. … Seemed like a straight-laced guy and a hard worker,” he said, noting that Patterson, though not trained in landing an aircraft, pulled off a “textbook” field landing. The plane was damaged but intact, according to law officials.

According to the FAA, Cory Wayne Patterson received a student pilot license on February 6, 2013. FAA rules require pilots to submit medical evaluations every two years to maintain their license. Patterson's last medical evaluation was in 2013 when he received his license. Based on FAA records, Patterson's license is no longer valid.

When asked if there were any protocols in place to prevent events such as this, Wheeler said it was impossible to know because employees had to have access to planes while working.

“We are going to have to reach out to some other airports that went through something like this and see what they’ve done,” he said. “It is hard when someone is doing exactly what they are doing. … You can’t look at someone’s head and read what’s on their mind.”

Quaka called Patterson's theft of the plane a "crime of opportunity" and not a breakdown of security protocols.

Below are the updates from the Daily Journal's live coverage of the event.

UPDATE (3:32 p.m.):

According to the FAA, Cory Wayne Patterson received a student pilot license on February 6, 2013. According to FAA rules, to keep licenses current, pilots have to submit medical evaluations every two years. Patterson's last medical evaluation was in 2013 when he received his license. A student pilot license limits pilots to private flight with no passengers.

Based on FAA records, Patterson's license is no longer valid.

Tupelo Police Department released a photo of Cory Wayne Patterson, 29. The photo was taken in the Tippah County field where Patterson landed the plane he stole from Tupelo Regional Airport.

UPDATE (1:52 p.m.):

Police Chief John Quaka told the Daily Journal that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)  is exploring “four or five” more charges that could be announced against Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, of Shannon in the coming weeks. 

“It is an ongoing investigation,” he said. “That is going to take some time to determine. Those are always the last things we learn in an investigation. We will run down the motivation. We pursue any angle and avenue that there is, and we will work in conjunction with the FBI to do so.”

Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Joseph Wheeler told the Daily Journal he knew and spoke with Patterson on a daily basis.

“I thought my guys were messing with me, especially after they said the name. I would think I would do it before he did," Wheeler said. "(Patterson) seemed like a strait-laced guy and a hard worker."

Wheeler also said Patterson, though not trained in landing an aircraft, pulled off a “textbook” field landing after the four-and-a-half-hour ordeal. The plane was damaged but intact, according to law officials.

When asked if there were any protocols in place to prevent events such as this, Wheeler said it was impossible to know because employees had to have access to planes while working.

“We are going to have to reach out to some other airports that went through something like this and see what they’ve done,” he said. “It is hard when someone is doing exactly what they are doing. … You can’t look at someone’s head and read what’s on their mind.”

UPDATE (1:45 p.m.):

Cory Patterson was a 10-year employee of Tupelo Aviation Unlimited, the fixed-based operator at Tupelo Regional Airport. Patterson was a lineman for TAU, which means he fueled the planes.

UPDATE (12:49 p.m.):

According to Tippah County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Josh Bateman, Cory Patterson was taken into joint custody with the Benton County Sheriff's Department at the scene of the plane's landing behind Gravestown Volunteer Fire Department, which is located about five miles west of Ripley near the Benton County line.

When officials arrived on the scene, the plane's engine was still running, signifying the aircraft still had fuel.

After being held in the Tippah County Jail for a short time, Tupelo police transported Patterson back to Lee County. Tupelo police were also on the scene of the landing.

While Patterson faces charges of grand larceny and making terrorist threats from Tupelo authorities, Bateman said he is unsure of additional charges from Tippah County. Officials there are researching state statutes to see if they will file further charges.

Bateman said the FAA is sending investigators to look over the plane before it can be removed from the field.

At this time, no motive is known for Patterson's theft of the plane or his threats.

UPDATE (12:20 p.m.):

At a press conference at Tupelo City Hall, local officials gave the following updates:

• Cory Wayne Patterson, 29, of Shannon, faces local charges of grand larceny and making terrorist threats. Police Chief John Quaka said he expects federal charges, too.

• Patterson has had some flight instruction, but Quaka does not believe he is a licensed pilot.

• Law enforcement negotiators were able to convince Patterson not to go through with his threat and instead to land at Tupelo Regional Airport. Patterson did not know how to land the plane, so a private pilot was brought in to walk Patterson through the process. Upon final approach, the Patterson aborted the landing and traveled in a northwest direction away from Tupelo. (Correction: A previous version said the private pilot aborted the attempt.)

• Law enforcement and family members were in contact with Patterson throughout the situation.

• Quaka said authorities believe Patterson landed the crash landed the plane because it was running low on or was out of fuel.

• Quaka called Patterson's theft of the plane a "crime of opportunity" and not a breakdown of security protocols. Patterson worked for a company that is contracted to maintain planes at the airport, including fueling the planes. This plane was fueled Friday night.

UPDATE (11:11 a.m.):

According to the FAA, the pilot was the only subject on the plane. The FAA is coordinating with local law enforcement and will investigate the incident.

UPDATE (10:36 a.m.):

The Tupelo Police Department will hold a press conference around noon.

UPDATE (10:35 a.m.):

The Benton County Sheriff's Department has taken Patterson into custody.

UPDATE (10:23 a.m.): 

Multiple sources have confirmed the plane is down in Ashland. The pilot, Cory Patterson, is alive. The status of the plane is unknown.

UPDATE (9:43 a.m.): 

Multiple law enforcement, airport and local authorities have identified the subject as Cory Patterson, 29, of Shannon.

Patterson is a 2011 Tupelo High School graduate.

A Cory Patterson believed to be the suspect posted on Facebook Saturday morning, "Sorry everyone. Never actually wanted to hurt anyone. I love my parents and sister this isn't your fault. Goodbye."

UPDATE (9:37 a.m.):

The plane is lingering west of Tippah County lake, just north of Ripley.

UPDATE (9:23 a.m.):

A communications official with the FBI's Jackson field office said, "The FBI, in accordance with our state and local partners, are aware of the situation. This is an active and ongoing matter. We will provide additional information as we have it."

UPDATE (9:19 a.m.):

A spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety said that the Mississippi Bureau of Information is on the scene to assist local and federal authorities.

UPDATE (9:14 a.m.):

Officials are now saying that the pilot of the plane is not an employee of the Tupelo Regional Airport, but may work for a Fixed Based Operator that leases space at the Tupelo airport.

UPDATE (9:07 a.m.):

The plane is currently flying over a rural area in Hickory Flat and law enforcement have converged on that area. 

UPDATE (8:44 a.m.):

The plane is now reported to be airborne north of Tupelo in the Benton, Union County area.

Local, State and Federal authorities are continuing to monitor this dangerous situation.

UPDATE (8:42 a.m.):

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is aware of the situation and is monitoring it closely.

UPDATE (8:39 a.m.):

The plane is now located Northwest of New Albany, flying in that general direction from Tupelo.

UPDATE (8:21 a.m.):

Police have reopened roads in west Tupelo around the airport as the threat has shifted away from this area, at least temporarily.

UPDATE (8:12 a.m.):

An airport personnel with knowledge of the matter said that the plane has currently left Tupelo's airspace, but that could change within moments.

Law enforcement on the scene said the pilot is now flying near the Toyota plant in Blue Springs.

UPDATE (7:58 a.m.):

Here's what we know about the plane:

Model: 1987 Beech C90A (Fixed wing multi-engine — 9 seats / 2 engines)

Owner: Southeast Aviation, LLC | Oxford, MS, US

Serial number: LJ-1156

Fuel capacity: 3,149 pounds (at least five hours of fuel at max speed)

Police approximate that the plane took off between 5-5:30 a.m.

UPDATE (7:56 a.m.):

Police are closing all roads on the west side of Tupelo. 

Original Story:

Police are working to keep the public safe after the pilot of an airplane flying over Tupelo phoned in a threat early this morning.

At approximately 5 a.m. on Sept. 3, the pilot made contact with E911 and threatened to intentionally crash into Walmart on West Main Street. 

The Tupelo Police Department has worked with Walmart and nearby the Dodge's convenience store to evacuate customers and disperse those people as practically as possible. TPD has also been in talking directly with the pilot.

According to law enforcement, the plane is believed to be stolen.

The situation is ongoing as TPD and all Emergency Services remain alert.

Citizens are asked to avoid that area until the all clear is given. With the mobility of an airplane, the danger zone for this type of incident is much larger than Tupelo.

More information will be released when it's available. 













20 comments:

  1. We always lock our plane at every FBO we overnight. Once you are in there are no keys. If you are smart enough, or can read a POH, to follow the starter sequence, it’s pretty easy after that. Even landing a C90 is easier in some ways than a 182 (IMHO).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with the comment C90/182. In many cases you don’t even need the POH … just a video online.

      Delete
  2. I just hope this isn’t the start of a trend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My same thought.....Crooks and now almost another suicide of a young, aspiring pilot.

      Delete
    2. Simulators are ever becoming more abundant and more sophisticated at almost any price point. Something to think about

      Delete
  3. I always lock my 441 when it's sitting on a ramp, but the lock for the door isn't particularly challenging. Might be time for a prop lock or something similar.

    These FBO's hire these youngsters and pay them peanuts to work around expensive and consequential hardware; on top of that, they MIGHT do a pre-employment drug test, but I doubt any of them do random testing in meaningful quantity and drugs are a huge thing among young people these days. I'm confident that C-90 is insured, so the owner is likely to be made financially whole - or nearly so - following their insurance claim. What will be interesting to see is whether or not the insurance underwriter will initiate subrogation against the FBO for the negligence of their employee.

    One thing's for sure, this ramper is no Beebo "Sky King" Russell......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking the same on Beebo. RIP Sky King!

      Delete
    2. I agree with the first part of your comment. I would wait for the report to see if drugs were involved. Keep in mind this guy managed to fly this thing under control for 4.5 hours with no formal training that we are aware of.

      Delete
    3. Excellent point......I cant get a 3rd class med because I take Cymbalta that "may affect my capacity to safely manipulate the controls of and aircraft" but someone thinks Cory was on drugs when we was able to start, taxi, become airborne, fly for 4.5 hours, abort a landing and then land in a field. Drugs are NOT the reason he did this.

      Delete
    4. I should say not in a king air as far as formal training

      Delete
    5. Not to get off the topic, but there is some thought these days that we really need to look at what is driving peoples mental illness and perhaps their propensity to self medicate with illicit drugs as opposed to thinking peoples mental illness is caused by drugs. I do believe that drugs can exacerbate an existing mental illness often times especially if not used upon the advice of a physician.

      Delete
    6. Everyone who glorifies the idiocy of Richard Russell, who endangered hundreds of lives, destroyed a multi-million dollar aircraft, and wrought significant environmental damage in his selfish quest to go out in style, helps encourage other unstable types to do likewise.

      Delete
  4. 10-year employee. FBO management wouldn't expect this to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Got his student pilot's "certificate" and 3rd class medical in 2013.....11 years with no progress....medical lapsed...lack of funds, emotional issues that required medication, frustration with simply being a lineman and no progress at becoming a rated pilot, many could point to "Ill show them I can fly a King Air and end it all" scenario. Combine this with the suicide of Charles Crooks and the mindset of young, perhaps frustrated pilots seeking a career or even a rating may come into sight. If I can fly, Id rather die. Sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Better check your math! It isn't 2024 just yet.

      Delete
  6. To quote Sloane Peterson from [Ferris Bueler's Day Off] - "Everyone goes to the zoo sometime"

    At least the guy did not kill himself. He needs help from qualified people.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lock him up a looooong time. This was totally unacceptable bad behavior.

    ReplyDelete

All messages must be civil in tone; if critical, must be constructive. This is a place where we learn what not to do next time. Personal attacks and hate speech directed at the NTSB investigators, FAA investigators, Designated Pilot Examiners, Kathryn, as well as other members of the aviation blog, are unacceptable because they are not constructive. Messages that harass, abuse or threaten other persons, such as threats to cause bodily harm, or that contain obscene or otherwise objectionable content, may result in the loss of your posting privileges.