Man Caught Posing As A Pilot A La Catch Me If You Can

This is a case of life imitating art, or maybe just both going full circle. An Italian man took a cue from the 2002 Steven Spielberg film Catch Me if You Can starring Leonardo DiCaprio and donned a pilot's uniform, fake identification and gained access to at least one flight in a cockpit. Apparently the age of intense airport security failed to initially discover the faux-pilot, who posed under the pseudonym of "Andrea Sirlo" before being arrested at a bar in Turin Airport.

In Catch Me if You Can, DiCaprio played U.S. con-man Frank Abagnale, Jr. who, among many things, flew more than a million miles on over 250 fights to 26 countries in the 1950s after he gained access to a Pan Am uniform and forged a pilot's license. Abagnale, of course, pulled off the feat at a time when air travel was still in its infancy and security detail at airports during the time were significantly lax compared to today's post-9/11 era.

"I saw that film and I wanted to be like Frank Abagnale," the Italian man known as "Sirlo" told police, according to The Guardian. Police were first tipped off after a civil aviation lieutenant told police he had met a man who described himself as a captain, but appeared too young to be a pilot. He had apparently created an I.D. with Germany's Lufthansa Airlines and flew on at least one flight operated by Air Dolomiti from Munich to Turin as a third pilot. Dolomiti is owned by Lufthansa.

The suspect created Facebook and Twitter profiles and several photos show him in uniform and sunglasses posing in front of aircraft. Following his arrest Friday, officials found more fake I.D. cards, uniforms, training manuals, and an airport staff parking permit. He's been charged with "attempting to threaten air security and assuming a false identity."

Lufthansa gave no comment. "Sirlo" is the name of a flight corridor over Turin.

[Source: The Guardian]