While we see all kinds of people acting inappropriately at airports, it’s not usually the pilots…
United Airlines pilot attacks airport parking gate
A 63-year-old United Airlines pilot has been charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief, after his behavior at Denver International Airport (DEN) on August 2, 2023. Specifically, the pilot was trying to leave the employee parking lot while still in uniform. He can be seen getting out of his car with a full-sized axe, and striking the parking arm at the exit gate 23 times, until it was eventually knocked off its base.
Another airport employee saw what happened and tried to take the axe away from him, leading to a physical struggle. He only ended up giving up the axe after a second airport employee intervened, and wrestled it away from him. Fortunately there were no injuries from this physical struggle. The pilot is believed to have caused around $700 in damage.
A while later, the pilot was apprehended in a nearby field and handcuffed. He was eventually released from custody, and drove away in his car. The pilot is scheduled to appear in Adams County Court on September 25, 2023, for an arraignment. The Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 pilot has been removed from his schedule and is on leave while United Airlines conducts an internal investigation.
Below you can see the CBS News report about what happened, including the video footage.
The pilot’s explanation for his actions
Per the police report, the pilot claims “he just hit his breaking point” while waiting for the parking gate to open. The pilot believed there were around six cars in line at each of the exit gates, and he lost his patience.
Airport administrators claim that there have been a lot of issues with people not having the proper permits to leave the employee parking garage, causing these queues. The pilot stated he “was trying to get rid of issues for everyone waiting.”
It goes without saying that we’ve all all sometimes behaved in ways we’re not proud of you, and we all have times where we reach our breaking points.
Now, it’s pretty scary when a pilot goes on a rampage at an airport parking lot with a full-size axe, striking something nearly two dozen times. That’s some serious aggression. However, to give him the benefit of the doubt in some way, he was taking out his aggression on an object, and not on a person. I think it’s just important to note the key difference there.
That’s not in any way to excuse what he did — he obviously needs a mental evaluation and should be held accountable for his actions. But I don’t necessarily view this as a situation of “oh, this could have just as easily been an axe rampage against people.”
A 63-year-old United Airlines pilot lost his patience at the Denver Airport employee parking lot, and ended up striking the exit parking arm 23 times, before it was eventually disabled. The pilot claims he reached his breaking point while waiting for the exit to open, and wanted to help everyone gets out quickly. He now faces charges of misdemeanor criminal mischief.