Fake Pilot Allegedly Inspired By 'Catch Me If You Can' Gets Arrested
By Naomi O'Leary
A man who posed as an airline pilot and traveled in the cockpit of at least one plane was arrested in Turin Airport using forged identity cards and wearing a pilot's uniform, Italian police said on Saturday.
The 32-year-old, whose real name was not released, allegedly created a fake identity as a Lufthansa pilot named "Andrea Sirlo," complete with a Facebook page that included fake flight attendant friends.
Police said "Sirlo" had traveled for free on at least one flight as a "third pilot" sitting in the cockpit. They were investigating whether he had flown as an imposter at other times.
Police said that they were alerted several months ago after "Sirlo" introduced himself as a captain to a Civil Aviation lieutenant, who became suspicious because he seemed too young for the job.
The national military police tracked down the suspected imposter from photos on his Facebook profile, in which he is shown posing in uniform and sunglasses in front of airplanes.
He was arrested in the check-in area of Turin Airport on Friday. According to a report in The Guardian, the man allegedly was inspired by the 2002 film, "Catch Me If You Can." Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the movie tells the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., who racked up more than a million miles while posing as a Pan Am pilot in the 1960s. "Sirlo" reportedly told police, "I saw that film and I wanted to be like Frank Abagnale."
Lufthansa declined to comment on whether one of their flights had been involved and said that it was a matter for the police.
At a press conference, police displayed a white shirt with epaulettes and a black double-breasted jacket with pilot stripes sewn on the cuffs. They said that they also seized fake resumes, airline badges and an airport staff parking permit.
Turin Airport said in a statement that it had not issued any permits in the name of the person involved.
A profile on a website where users can track their flights shows "Pilot Andrea Sirlo" flying from Munich Airport to Turin on Oct. 23, 2011.
Munich Airport did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Sirlo" is the name of a flight corridor over Turin.
AOL Jobs contributed to this report.
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