An unemployed man wore a pilot's uniform to hitch a free ride in the cockpit of a commercial flight, Italian police claim.
The 32-year-old was stopped at Turin’s Caselle airport on suspicion of using false IDs, a cap and uniform to convince crew he was a qualified pilot.
He managed to fly for free inside the cockpit aboard a flight from Munich, Germany, to Turin in April, according to Carabinieri paramilitary police.
The two real pilots flew the Air Dolomiti plane while the man, who has not been identified, did not touch the controls.Two pilots flew the plane with the 'fake' pilot in the cockpit
Police say they tailed the man for months after receiving a tip-off.
Detectives said the man states on his Facebook profile that he is a commercial pilot who was promoted to captain’s rank while still young.
A police statement said the suspect was held on suspicion of putting the security of air transport at risk and "usurping a title".
He has been bailed while the investigation continues.
"On at least one occasion in 2012, pretending to be a pilot of a foreign commercial airline, and with a fake name, he succeeded in flying as the third pilot in the cockpit," the statement said.
Air Dolomiti is part of the German airline Lufthansa.
"We know the case," Lufthansa spokesman Christoph Meier said. He declined to give any details, but said that even crew are unable to fly aboard one of the carrier's planes without having a ticket, indicating that the Italian might have had a passenger ticket.
Italian police said the suspect, after they confronted him, led them to a garage, where officers found piles of neatly pressed white shirts with epaulets, black trousers and jackets which were similar to pilots' uniforms.