Man who threatened to crash stolen plane into Walmart didn’t have pilot’s license, Mississippi officials say

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Authorities say a plane orbiting northern Mississippi whose pilot had threatened to crash into a Walmart store landed safely on Saturday.

Government Tate Reeves announced on Twitter that the “situation has been resolved and no one has been injured.” He thanked law enforcement agencies that helped bring down the plane.

The pilot, identified as 29-year-old Cory Wayne Patterson, was in custody and charged with grand theft and making terrorist threats, Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

Patterson, an employee at the airport in Tupelo, allegedly stole the Beechcraft King Air C90A just after 5 a.m. – when the air traffic control tower was unmanned. He has no pilot’s license or experience with landing planes, but did have some flight instruction, Quaka said. His job at the airport consists of refueling aircraft.

A Walmart in the city was evacuated just after 5:20 a.m. after Patterson called 911 and said he would fly the plane to the store, Quaka said. Major streets in Tupelo were also closed.

Negotiators then contacted Patterson and were able to convince him not to fly the plane into Walmart, Quaka said.

The Beechcraft was in the air for more than five hours, orbiting Tupelo and another nearby community. An online flight-tracking service showed the plane lurched in the air for several hours, following a looped path.

Law enforcement officers told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal shortly after 8 a.m. that the plane had left Tupelo airspace and was flying near a Toyota plant in nearby Blue Springs.

Just after 9:30 a.m. local time, Patterson posted a message to Facebook from the plane. At the end of the post, he wrote “goodbye,” Quaka said. The plane was almost out of fuel. But with some instruction from a private pilot, Patterson was able to land the plane about 30 minutes later.

The plane sustained minimal damage during the landing, Quaka said. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane landed in a field several miles northwest of Ripley Airport in Ripley, Mississippi.

No one was injured in the incident.

CBS affiliate WCBI-TV posted a video of the plane flying over the area.

We follow an evolving story. A pilot threatens to crash his plane at the West Main Wal Mart in Tupelo.

Posted by WCBI News on Saturday, September 3, 2022

Leslie Criss, a magazine editor who lives in Tupelo, woke up early and watched the situation on TV and social media. Several of her friends stood outside watching the plane circling above her.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in this city,” Criss told The Associated Press. “It’s a scary way to wake up on a Saturday morning.”

Former state representative Steve Holland, who is a funeral director in Tupelo, said he had received calls from families concerned about the plane.

“One called and said, ‘Oh my god, should we cancel Mother’s funeral?'” Holland said. “I just told them, ‘No, life goes on.'”

Patterson is also likely to face federal charges, Quaka said.

Multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the FAA, were involved in the investigation. They are still trying to figure out a motive.

The plane drama unfolded as tens of thousands of college football fans headed to northern Mississippi for Saturday football games at the University of Mississippi in Oxford and Mississippi State University in Starkville. Tupelo is located between those two cities.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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