Serial Errors Allowed Mouse-Eared Intruder To Board C-40B

Credit: USAF

A U.S. Air Force guard allowed a civilian with a criminal record who wore a reddish hat with balls on top that resembled mouse ears to pass through a gate into Joint Base Andrews Bolling, Maryland on Feb. 4, and 5 hr. later the intruder reached the flight line and boarded a parked Boeing C-40B, according to a newly-released Inspector General report. 

The report also revealed how the unidentified intruder gained access to a flight line that includes the presidential airlift fleet. A defect in a gate to the flight line created a 1-ft. gap, which the intruder walked through onto the flight line. The man then boarded a C-40B with two airmen inside, but he left the aircraft after a few minutes without being stopped despite not having a restricted area badge, the Air Force IG report said. 

Security Forces guards, who were alerted by airmen in the passenger terminal, stopped the intruder on the flight line and arrested him more than 5 hr. after he was waved onto the base by another guard, the report said. 

The gate guard “got complacent and did not follow procedures,” the IG report concluded. The driver was supposed to present identification through his car window, but he was waived onto the base by the guard without checking whether he was authorized, the report said. The human error was compounded by an undetected malfunction that left a gap in a gate that led to the flight line. 

Once on the flight line, the intruder was not detected by security forces despite his unusual hat, as they were focused on more restricted areas of the installation, the report says. Two airmen on board the C-40B were focused on training and felt secure on a U.S. installation, so never challenged the man after he boarded and walked to the back of the aircraft. 

Security forces only responded after two “astute” airmen working at the passenger terminal noticed a man wearing an unusual hat walking on the flight line, the report said. The intruder was detained less than 2 min. later.

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.


I hope the gate guard and whoever is in charge of security get some serious consequences for this.
Another example of incompetence, lack of leadership and training by our command staff.
50 years ago there were several way to get onto the fenced areas of Wright Pat without showing a pass. I think you could get on through the Wright Memorial. Or, at Patterson, you could just walk on with employees during the mass entry of the morning shift. And later, by driving down to the ancillary facility at the Air Force Museum and then driving further. I did the latter once to see the place my father had worked in the 50s and I had not seen for 40 years. Perhaps there were other routes. After the big al Qaida attack in 2001, this all ended -- indeed, the Wright Memorial was shut down for many years. Of course, this is part of a larger movement toward a security and less free country, both civilian and military, over the last half century. So much the worse for who we were.
Bernard Biales
After four years of the previous administration, I suspect that the flight line crews had grown used to authorized VIPs with strange orange constructions resembling hair on their heads.
Just a part of the Biden Border security plan
This was not part of Biden's security lapses, nor Trumps. It was a security failure, far removed from executive edicts, that can develop in any organization at any time. That is why at the unit and mid-career levels, in the military, government, and industry, emphasis must be put on vigilance in selection of commanders/leaders.
In my military and civilian aviation careers there were processes "in the old days" that would get people fired today. As the former comment pointed out, a necessary evil of todays hostile world.