This morning, law enforcement officials received an anonymous tip that liquid explosives had been carried onto a U.S. Airways jet bound from Philadelphia to DFW. The plane was in mid-flight when it was called back to the Philly airport, where it was immediately surrounded by heavily armed police.
A 29-year-old, Christopher Shell, was led off the plane in handcuffs. He was a bit bewildered, with NBC Philadelphia reporting that he had just posted on his Facebook page that that he was "pretty disappointed in US Airways currently. We just spent a half hour in the air to be notified that the plane, 'has technical difficulties' and had to fly back!"
The difficulties, it turned out, weren't so technical after all. Incredibly simple, even. As the Consumerist noted this afternoon, the "anonymous tip" was actually Shell's friend playing a birthday prank. Jalopnik thinks it might not have been such a friendly prank, with a source attributing it to Shell's ex-girlfriend.
The FBI is not amused.
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"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that when you place a hoax against civil aviation the consequences could be catastrophic," FBI agent Richard Quinn said in a media briefing.