ORLANDO, Fla. – A Canadian citizen was arrested Friday morning for hijacking a luggage tug and driving across an active runway at Orlando International Airport, Orlando police said.
Officials said the man, identified Friday afternoon as 27-year-old Richard Hogh, was acting belligerent shortly before 8 a.m. and was escorted off departing United flight 272, which was headed to Canada via Chicago.
Police said Hogh boarded the plane and sat in an unassigned seat in first class. When airline officials asked Hogh to move to his assigned seat, he told them he was a pilot and demanded to be seated next to the pilot in the jump seat, according to an arrest affidavit.
He was escorted off the plane and back to the gate to rebook his flight. Instead, police said Hogh followed a woman with a cleaning cart into a service elevator. The woman saw Hogh didn't have an airport security badge so she told him to get off the elevator.
During the conversation, the elevator doors opened on the ground floor at the ramp area of the airport, which is a security-controlled area not open to the public.
Hogh took his pants off, got off the elevator and climbed into the passenger's seat of a luggage tug, the electric vehicle used to transport baggage from the terminal to the plane and back, the affidavit said. He told the airport employee who was in the driver's seat that he had a flight he needed to catch.
The employee feared for his safety when he saw Hogh didn't have an airport ID badge so he got off the tug and confronted the man. That's when Hogh started driving the tug on the aircraft taxiway, police said.
A firefighter who was aware of the situation was able to run alongside the tug, jump on and subdue Hogh, according to the affidavit. That firefighter and several others from the fire station on Orlando International Airport property subdued Hogh until police came to arrest him.
Hogh is charged with grand theft and trespassing.
OIA officials told News 6 that emergency exits in the airport have to be unlocked so people can evacuate if necessary.
However, when someone goes through an emergency exit, an alarm sounds.
News 6 contacted United Airlines about the incident and received the following statement from spokesperson Maddie King:
"Earlier this morning a customer accessed the tarmac at Orlando International Airport, where he was detained by authorities. We are investigating how the customer accessed the tarmac, and cooperating with the authorities. For more information please contact the local police."
Officials said there were no major delays on flights.
Stay with News 6 for more on this developing story.