Police: Man with ‘developmental disorder’ grabbed flight controls, causing scare at Norwood Airport

A man with a “developmental disorder” grabbed the controls of an airplane from a pilot during a promotional flight, causing an in-air scare and an emergency response at Norwood Airport on Friday.

Officers and firefighters responded to the airport “out of an abundance of caution” shortly before 12 p.m. after a single-engine Cessna 172 made an emergency landing, according to Norwood Police Chief William Brooks.

In a statement, Brooks said, “An investigation has determined that a flight school, operating out of the airport, was giving a promotional ride to a woman and her 60-year-old brother. The brother, who was reported to police to be a person with a developmental disorder, grabbed the flight-control yoke during the flight and attempted to move it around.”

The pilot, an experienced flight instructor with New Horizon Aviation, was able to maintain control of the plane and landed safely at the airport at 11:45 a.m., according to Brooks.

Brooks noted that investigators determined that there was no criminal intent behind the incident.

The plan didn’t sustain any damage.

A senior official at New Horizon Aviation called the scare an “undesirable event.”

“Everyone is on the ground safely and healthy,” the official said. “No one was ever in real jeopardy, this was a precautionary measure.”

The reported reach for the flight controls happened around 11:42 a.m., according to ATC audio from a tower at the airport:

Pilot: “577, emergency landing”

Pilot: “(unintelligible), 577, (unintelligible)”

Tower: “577, do you need further assistance?”

Pilot: “577, Yah get the police out here”

Tower: “577, what’s the issue?”

Pilot: “(unintelligible), Passenger just tried to grab the plane on me, 577″

Horizon Aviation is an FAA-approved flight school with locations at Norwood Airport and T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island.

There were no additional details available.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In a previous version of this story, Norwood police told Boston 25 that a flight instructor had called air traffic control at the airport because a student pilot in the plane was “attempting to crash” the aircraft. It was later changed to reflect new information that was shared in a news release.

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