Police talk to TV3 over 'pilot' stunt

By APNZ, NZ Herald Staff

A security camera image shows the wanted man - wearing his pilot's uniform - in the Auckland Airport domestic terminal. Photo / NZ Police
A security camera image shows the wanted man - wearing his pilot's uniform - in the Auckland Airport domestic terminal. Photo / NZ Police

A man who attempted to access a restricted area of Auckland Airport by dressing in a fake pilot's uniform was carrying out a stunt for television show Wannaben, reports say.

APNZ understands the imposter was not comedian Ben Boyce himself.

Police are now meeting with the show's producers, Radio NZ reports.

The man was reportedly filming for an upcoming segment of the show when he dressed as a pilot and approached staff at the Auckland domestic air terminal on Saturday afternoon to try to get into a restricted airside area.

TV3 spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said police were currently talking to members of the Wannaben production team.

She would not comment further until the meeting was over as it was a police matter.

The man was wearing a white shirt with gold-banded epaulets, blue trousers, and a dark cap with a silver-winged badge.

Staff challenged him when he failed to show proper identification and he left the terminal building in his disguise shortly after 2.30pm.

A former TV3 employee said the incident "doesn't surprise me".

Police spokesman Kevin Loughlin said officers were still making inquiries into the incident.

More information would be released this afternoon if the matter was to be taken further, he said.

He would not confirm whether the man had tried to fake his way into the airport restricted area.

Airline Pilots' Association aviation security coordinator Paul Lyons said the incident was of serious concern.

If the man had got into the restricted area he would have had access to airside terminal areas, aircraft and boarding passengers.

"We don't know what the motives of this person were, whether they were in the nature of a prank or whether there were more sinister or serious motives," he told Radio New Zealand.

Pilots and other airport staff took security very seriously, he said.
"It's very much viewed as a team approach - everyone's involved in security," he said.

"I would include the public in this as well. We're all part of the security network and if anyone sees anyone anything suspicious they should report it to the authorities."

Mr Lyons said security varied across different sized airports and was "very strong" at Auckland Airport.

The penalties for breaching a security area included prison or a very heavy fine.

"It's of a very serious nature and I'm sure the police would treat it very seriously, as would our pilots," Mr Lyons said.

People could not hire authentic pilots' uniforms at costume shops and the fact the man had a uniform was concerning, he said.

The episode was reminiscent of the film Catch Me if You Can, which was based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr, who posed as a Pan Am pilot while on the run from authorities.

Mr Lyons said it was the first time he had heard of such an incident in New Zealand.

"It may have happened in the past but I've been involved in aviation for around 30 years and I'm not aware of a similar incident happening, certainly not at Auckland Airport in recent times."

Superintendent Andy Lovelock said attempted breaches of airport security were taken very seriously.

"The effort to which this individual has gone to access the restricted airside area of the Auckland airport is of a significant concern," he said.

The man, in his late 20s to 30s, was seen driving away from the terminal in a black Hi-Ace with tinted windows.

- NZ Herald

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