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 Pilot bails out of plane to fake death

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PostSubject: Pilot bails out of plane to fake death   Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:21 pm

Quote :
MIAMI (Reuters) - A pilot wanted on fraud charges parachuted out of his plane over Alabama and allowed the aircraft to crash in neighboring Florida in an apparent attempt to fake his death, media reported on Monday.

Authorities launched a manhunt for the pilot, who survived and checked into an Alabama hotel under a false name, and then fled, a Florida sheriff's officer told local media.

The pilot, identified as Marcus Schrenker, 38, was the only person aboard the plane that took off on Sunday from Indiana.

The pilot made a bogus emergency call, put the plane on autopilot and parachuted out over Alabama, Santa Rosa County, Florida, Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Haines was quoted as saying.

The empty plane, a Piper PA-36, crashed on Sunday night more than 220 miles away in northwest Florida near the city of Milton.

A man believed to be the pilot approached police near the Alabama city of Harpersville on Sunday night, wet up to the knees and seeking help. He told them he had been in a canoe accident, showed them a drivers license identifying him as Schrenker and was taken by police to a hotel, Haines said.

By the time Alabama authorities learned about the plane crash, he had fled the hotel, Haines said.

"We believe he was trying to flee some type of prosecution," said Haines, adding that Schrenker faced fraud charges in Indiana.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton, editing by Jim Loney and Philip Barbara)


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