Local News

Man Charged After Being Found on Plane at RDU

Posted December 19, 2006
Updated December 20, 2006

A flight from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Cincinnati was canceled Tuesday morning after a man was found on the plane, authorities said.

Gregory Scott Wester, 30, of Old Mill Road in Fuquay-Varina, was charged by RDU police with first-degree trespassing and possession of a controlled substance, authorities said.

The FBI and the Transportation Security Administration also charged him with access to an aircraft without permission.

Wester was being held at the Wake County Jail Tuesday evening and is scheduled to appear in a federal court Friday morning.

Crews were cleaning a Delta 737 plane at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday when they saw a man come aboard and sit down, RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

He apparently climbed a 7-foot-tall, barbed-wire fence at the airport perimeter and told authorities he was trying to catch a flight, Hamlin said, downplaying the security breach.

Investigators said they believe Wester used the same lift that the cleaning crew had used to board the rear of the plane.

"At no time was he an apparent threat to any individuals or any aircraft," Hamlin said.

"Other layers of security (beyond the fence) include identifying people who are on the ramp, who are on aircraft that aren't supposed to be there," she added. "That procedure worked in this case."

Wester was calm but disoriented when he was taken into custody, Hamlin said.

Law-enforcement officers searched him and found two airport parking receipts, cigarettes, a lighter and an unmarked bottle containing several tablets commonly prescribed for anxiety and depression.

WRAL spoke with Wester's father Tuesday night. He said he did not think his son meant to cause any harm.

Delta's 6 a.m. flight to Cincinnati was canceled so the plane could be swept again for security, Hamlin said. All other aircraft on the Terminal A ramp and the entire ramp area also were checked after Wester was arrested.

Wester was also arrested in April on a breaking and entering charge, according to Wake County court records. No details about that incident were available Tuesday evening.

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  • patriot4liberty Dec 20, 2006

    "controlled substance?" come on, it was probably his Rx. Even if it was any other kind of freak incident, like a suicide attempt or just a drunken dare, it was discovered and he was escorted off the plane. I'm tired of every single little thing being treated like a major international incident. Sometimes the press just needs to say, "Big WHOOP" and let the stupid stories pass on by.

  • Snoopy Dec 20, 2006

    And hush Jlm, you are just down on anything American. Take your comments to myspace, maybe the kids will enjoy them!

  • Snoopy Dec 20, 2006

    With security supposedly the it should be, there should be NO WAY that could have ever happened! I can go to an airport for a flight and get a body search...But yet, people can climb the fence and board the plane and NO ONE see them? Give me a break, somebody is sleeping on the job!

  • jlmkuw Dec 20, 2006

    Good thing we are spending as much as we are to keep this kind of thing from happening. GOOD JOB HOMELAND SECURITY AND TSA.

  • moorerlgh Dec 20, 2006

    guess he wasn't just taking a nap afterall

  • j9simpki Dec 19, 2006

    Having done a lot of work at RDU, I'd have to say that this doesn't surprise me. In my opinion I don't think that security measures there are anywhere close to what they should be. I saw the person on the news saying that the layers of security worked and that's why he was caught. I really don't think that the cleaning crew should have been the ones to report the problem. The moment the guy climbed the fence it should have sounded an alarm. This proves flying still poses a risk. I'll stick to driving.

  • Familymatters Dec 19, 2006

    Crews were cleaning a Delta 737 plane at RDU at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday when they saw a man come aboard and sit down, RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

    The man apparently climbed a 7-foot-tall, barbed wire fence at the airport perimeter and told authorities he was trying to catch a flight, she said, downplaying the security breach.

    I often wonder if people read the articles at all, or if they are reading the messages posted.... this one isnt all that hard to figure out.

    As far as the guy on the plane goes, it sounds like its awfully easy to get access to a plane, which is not only SCARY, but down right terrifying if you think about it.How is it even remotely possible for this to happen at an international airport???
    It makes me wish sometimes that news providers wouldn't report certain aspects of stories like this one, so as not to announce to the entire planet how simple this is to get to a plane unrestricted.

    Glad I'm not flying for the holidays.

  • i am batman Dec 19, 2006

    maybe CIA will hire him for covert ops!

  • ScreenNameNotInUse Dec 19, 2006

    This is obviously not a complete news story. It lacks a ton of answers to a ton of questions.

  • yep Dec 19, 2006

    I agree buell...he was probably up late last night watching the Colts stomp the Bengals, and he wasn't too enthused on returning to Cincinnati.