Student’s Science Project Shuts Down Dallas Airport

    April 2, 2012
    Chris Gabbard
    Comments are off for this post.

Dallas Love Field was shut down after a Southwest Airlines plane to Amarillo was found to have a suspicious device on board. The device turned out to be a science project robot that was accidentally left on the plane. That didn’t stop air marshals and Love Field security from detaining the students and their professor. An amateur video posted on YouTube shows several people being led away from the scene in handcuffs.

The device was discovered by authorities near the cockpit of Southwest Airlines Flight 157 after arriving from Kansas City shortly before 4PM on Sunday.

The device looked like a cell phone attached to a remote control car with some exposed wires protruding.

The TSA evacuated gates 3 through 15 as a precautionary measurement against the “deadly” science project. In all, 11 people were detained in connection with the device. The incident caused ongoing flight delays at the Dallas airport, including three that had to be diverted.

Flight 157 departed for Amarillo at 6:39PM, three hours behind schedule.

A spokesman for Dallas City Hall released this statement explaining the incident:

A commercial flight which originated in Kansas City arrived at Love Field this afternoon and unloaded passengers. The next flight crew boarded to prep the aircraft for the next flight when a robotic device was discovered on the plane and the crew notified authorities. Air Marshals along with Dallas Love Field officers detained 11 passengers related to the device. It was determined that the device was not dangerous and was a student’s science project. The student was traveling with fellow students and a professor. That student told authorities the robot was accidentally left on the plane. The airport was temporarily shut down until the device could be determined it was not a threat. Gate #12 has reopened and airport operations are returning to normal. The TSA and Air Marshals are the lead in this case and questions will need to be directed to those agencies.

The TSA has become notorious for overreacting to minor incidents and exercising ridiculous precautionary measures like detaining small children and the elderly .

  • Bill Fisher

    The TSA is full of idiots. It obviously cleared security on the way to Dallas so it wasn’t a threat once it made it all the way to Love Field.

    The TSA screeners and Air-Head Marshals should be convicted for false arrest. Long past time to close this agency and prosecute everyone who works there.

    • HL

      As Bruce Schneier once said, if the terrorists really wanted to get a bomb on board, they could. Just split the device into several parts per passenger and assemble it on flight. So yes, the TSA had a good reason to freak out afterwards. But they shouldn’t have paraded the ‘suspects’ down the airport, or closed half the airport down. I suppose the airport’s insurance forces them to.

      • Derek

        No, their desire to keep the populace in a state of constant fear and terror is what requires them to do it.

        • John


  • John Doe

    The Taliban are smiling and laughing at what the US has become. Mission accomplished.

    • John smith

      Well that’s if you buy the 9/11 lies, they did partial of the mess but who did the other half? Also the Christmas day bomber was put in the plane with out a passport by higher orders and I am not insinuating allah. Now is all about the supposed terrorism andto take it there at a faster speed. idiotizing the public, people need to wake up this country is being pushed down on purpose and all the supposed societies that people belong to will only help to do this. Most are selfish idiotic and well idealistic bad combo. Nothing is really produced here except supposed financial services that once commodities continue the jump to other currencies you will really see the unveiling of the mess.

      • Matt

        Of course a lack of a education, forethought, and common sense means all conspiracy theories are true! Where’s Hanlon? I need a razor…

    • Janet Merner

      John Doe is correct. The paranoia and distrust in the Republic of the United States is Taliban’s real win. Fear is crippling the Unites States,

      They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

      Benjamin Franklin

  • http://h4x354x0r.com h4x354x0r

    This is not rational risk assessment. This is being successfully terrorized.

  • John Smith

    “It was determined that the device was not dangerous and was a student’s science project”

    Better cuff them anyway, just in case. Better to falsely arrest 11 people than to let 1 potentially guilty person ever go free.

    • Johnny

      Yes John, it’s better to have the TSA finger your daughters a$$. She might be carrying contraband because she is acting all wild and stuff. Better safe than sorry!

      • j

        sarcasm |ˈsärˌkazəm|
        the use of irony to mock or convey contempt: his voice, hardened by sarcasm, could not hide his resentment.

    • Justin Demoude

      Or 100,000 or a million…just ask your local Supreme Court Justice, he’ll tell ya!

  • Jeff

    Security theater at its finest.

  • FredInIT

    Duh… what about taking personal responsibility? The bone-headed student left their work on the plane. A cell phone with all kinds of wires sticking out of it? I don’t care where you are that’s going to freak just about anyone out. Sorry, this member of the liberal left is siding with the TSA goons on this one.

    OK, flip this around? TSA knuckle-dragger says ‘hurm… looks harmless’ and tosses it in the trash. Thing blows up… kills a 5-10 folks and injures about 20 more and you have a decom’d airport terminal for 6-months of repairs. Yes, I realize that to be on the plane in the first place it had to have passed through the checkpoint on the outbound side of this.

    For all the TSA’s stupidity, this one would have been a problem pre-9/11. They did the right thing here.

    • j

      Wires are not a bomb. If the device had something that actually resembled explosives, then closing down those gates and checking it out safely would have been appropriate.
      Unless explosives were found, or the feds could prove that someone made a fake bomb and left it there to scare people, there is no legitimate reason to arrest anyone.

      • a

        OMG WIREZ! Better shoot everyone on the plane!

        Seriously the idiot who shut down an airport should be fired.

        I can see that electronics hobbyists are next on the list… coz they could build dangerous devices you know, with wires and all, like in movies!

        • JB

          Electronic hobbiest have already been targets in numerous incidents since 9/11 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Boston_bomb_scare). Just another case of ignorance here. You’d think they make an attempt to get a little training for these TSA agents so they can better deal with issues like this.

    • Paul

      TSA has trained experts.

      Students located: check!

      Students cuffed and led away: check!

      Robot identified as a possible bomb: check!

      Taxpayers billed for all of this: check!

      Complete failure to increase security: check!

    • Britt

      Siding with the TSA over this? That’s because you are an idiot. The device flew into Love Field, on that aircraft, was left on thei aircraft by a student and thus, clearly had made it PAST TSA SCREENERS to get onto the flight. It was not a ‘cell phone with all kinds of wires sticking out of it’ but rather a cell phone attached to a remote control car, with wires coneecting them. Maybe your level of education is so low that to you that seems like a bomb, but to the techno-litarati, that is a remotely piloted vehicle, built by students, from COTS equipment.

      Read the article again, this was screened and flew on that aircraft, thus there was NO BOMB MATERIAL in it.

  • lax-goalie

    @FredInIT: Suppose the “TSA knuckle-dragger” swabs the device for explosives before throwing it away? ‘Cause, you know, they do that with luggage now.

    There’s the end of your bomb theory.

    But look on the bright side: we know know you’re not too smart to be a TSA screener, if you need a job.

  • ba

    Probably some smallville student all distracted over going to the big city, making time with their romantic aspiration, and/or brain circuits overloaded after 1-2 nights without sleep finishing up before the big day.

  • Daisymae

    What a display of idiocy and incompetence! TSA let the item go through the checkpoint. If it was a bomb, then TSA screwed up and let a plane full of people get killed. If it wasn’t a bomb, then why are innocent people, including children, being arrested?

    If it was a bomb, why didn’t the plane blow up? What’s the point of arresting people who have already landed and gotten off the plane?

    Aside from putting innocent people in handcuffs and terrorizing them, think of all the money this idiocy cost from gates shut down, flights delayed, and planes diverted to other airports.

    There really is no limit to TSA’s incompetence and the consequences that the American public has to bear from TSA’s stupidity.

    • HL

      Why didn’t the bomb go off? They can fail too. But it doesn’t mean the explosives inside still can’t explode. The detonator couldn’t go off. See the underwear or the shoe bomber. I’d have to side with the TSA on this one.

  • Maarten

    Well stupidity isn’t limited to the TSA, or the US. In the Netherlands, a mayor evacuated a sizable part of the city of Leeuwarden on April fools day because… a WWII mine was seen floating around in a canal. Now since when does no-one question how a German mine ends up in a narrow city canal ON APRIL FOOLS DAY anymore ???

  • Anonymous Guest

    F-ing idiots. Over-reaction. Security Theater. I’m not amused. I no longer fly because of this bovine scatology.

  • Anonymous Coward

    TSA = Totally STUPID A**holes, obviously a child of DHS…
    DHS = Department of Homeland STUPIDITY

    This really isn’t a joke, and I am quite pissed at the whole deal now.

    I had to change my lifestyle (no more air travel, no more Stateside visits) but now I vote with my wallet.

    Good luck USA and your dead tourist industry…

  • Army Vet

    As any combat engineer or EOD technician that his disarmed IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq if they wouldn’t have done the same thing. An enemy can easily make a bomb out of a cell phone and in fact do it all the time. Better safe than sorry. Especially since the Taliban is using American’s to carry out threats.

    • BR

      I’ve never heard of anyone making a bomb out of a cellphone, not even Macgyver. Most people require some sort of explosive material to go along with the cell phone. To determine this, a simple swab test would have sufficed at the time of discovery, rather than parading children around in handcuffs….

      Also… Americans, not American’s.

  • WK

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin.

    Their attitude of “If you don’t like it don’t fly” is the 1st cousin to “If you don’t want to have your telephone taped, don’t use it” and who knows what more.

    But but but.. I didn’t give up liberty, they took it. I wonder if Ben Franklin would tell me that it is now my turn to fight for liberty as he and his contemporaries did.

  • davidwr

    Cool, now all a terrorist needs to do to shut down an airport is sign up for a robotics class, go on a road trip with his professor and classmates, and “forget” his science project when he gets off the plane.

    Sure, he may wind up in handcuffs and on the local news, but SCORE! he’ll succeed in shutting down the airport.


  • http://www.nitemarecafe.com Wintermute

    Wow. Wonder if this will show up on the TSA’s blog as a “success” story?

  • Yojimbo

    The terrorists have won

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