"To a trained terrorist, most airports have the security of a laundromat,” aviation consultant Mike Boyd said, after a SkyWest pilot and murder suspect scaled a fence surrounding St. George Municipal Airport in Utah early Tuesday morning and drove the plane through the wire fence and into the airport parking lot, damaging cars and crashing into the airport terminal. A police officer patrolling the airport found Brian Hedglin (pictured) alone in the cockpit, dead from a gunshot wound to the head in an apparent suicide.
Boyd, chairman of Boyd International Group in Evergreen, Colorado, told CBS News 4 in Denver that while airport security efforts are focused on screening passengers inside the terminal, little attention is paid to guarding the planes outside. "A real terrorist is not going through the screening to try to bust that. A real terrorist is going to do what this guy did — go through the back door," Boyd said.
Hedglin was wanted in Colorado in connection with the stabbing death of his ex- girlfriend, found dead in her Colorado Springs home last Friday. He had been flying for SkyWest since 2005. The company placed him on administrative leave and deactivated his access cards when it learned he was a murder suspect. A SkyWest spokesperson declined to say whether the plane, a Bombardier CR 1200, was fueled up or whether its doors were locked when Hedglin approached it just before 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Associated Press reported.
Airlines have different procedures for securing planes and planes may be manufactured either with or without locking mechanisms, a spokeswoman for Bombardier in Toronto said, while pointing out that it would take someone with training and experience to fly the plane. "An average person wouldn't be able to walk up and start one up," Marianella de la Barrera told the AP.
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Photo of Brian Hedglin: AP Images