Flight Attendant Accused Of Disabling Airplane Equipment

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Everybody feels like skipping work once in a while but a Pinnacle Airlines flight attendant is being charged with trying to do something about it. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that 23-year-old Stephen R. Hirtzinger was charged Thursday with causing a plane to become inoperable. The airline became suspicious after two dozen flights, 13 of which Hirtzinger was the sole flight attendant on, were cancelled or delayed because of tampering with fire extinguishers, oxygen equipment and other safety-related equipment. According to court papers quoted by the newspaper, the airline set up a sting operation with the help of a local maintenance shop. A mechanic thoroughly inspected an airplane Hirtzinger was scheduled to fly on and found everything in order. About 80 minutes later, as the plane was ready for takeoff, the pilots noticed torn packaging on breathing equipment. After replacing the gear, they were allowed to take off, only to return a short time later because of an oxygen leak. Someone had cracked the valve on an oxygen tank. Hirtzinger's been suspended and is banned from airports. He's back in court tomorrow.