Passenger Faces Misdemeanor Charge After Jumping From Emergency Exit

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Watch for new warning stickers on the emergency exits of airliners after a California man on a United flight opened an over-wing window, walked out on the wing and then jumped to the ramp as the plane taxied at O’Hare early Thursday. Randy Frank Davila, 57, was arrested but won’t face charges for the federal crimes he allegedly committed because Chicago police contend he didn’t get fair warning. The CPD issued a statement saying Davila has been charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct rather than a felony because there was “no signage on the emergency door nor the tarmac advising the subject that exiting a moving plane would constitute criminal trespass to restricted areas.” He was released on a $3,000 bond and is supposed to be back in court in June.  

The weirdness ensued after the flight touched down about 4:30 a.m. on a red-eye from San Diego. Davila had reportedly been behaving strangely on the flight and had been refused alcohol service. When the plane was nearing the gate, he allegedly popped the window, slid off the wing and walked to the front of the stopped aircraft and started waving it to the gate. The plane made it to the gate about 20 minutes later after Davila had been escorted to safety.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Rich K, I appreciate the sentiment greatly. This response looks like progress on improving the approach to mental health. But I hope you’re not confusing punishment with natural consequences. Interfering with the safety of others must never be ignored. Otherwise those with fragile relationships with reality and “the rules” are being taught that they don’t apply to them.

  2. Wimpy prosecutors.

    Sounds like he was drunk, given he tried to waive the airplane to the gate, but there are cases of fear, two cases from Pacific Western Airlines:
    – one day in the interior of BC, a passenger ran out the door of the airplane, through the terminal into the parking lot, then drove away.
    Fortunately for minimizing delay, a woman phoned the terminal and said her husband had just arrived home, he was afraid of flying – tried but couldn’t go through with the flight.
    – another day I was sitting toward the back of the cabin during a station stop, a passenger on the other side of the aisle made three trips to the lavatory in the rear, I raised my eyes and moved my head as a flight attendant came down the aisle, she met the guy coming out of the lavatory.
    Told me later the poor guy lost his mother in one of the PanAm 707 crashes in SE Asia/South Pacific.
    She reassured him enough that he stayed onboard for the flight.

    • Perhaps crash was PanAm 806 which crashed on approach to Pago Pago in 1974, PA had a bad early decade in the South Pacific and nearby.

      Those cases of fear were in the 1970s or early 80s.

  3. Probably on a B737. the later models -700NG have sensible overwing exits that are easy to operate, however -200 thru 500 models were less easy. To operate one has to lift the whole overwing exit wndow clear and the what to do with this hefty bit of Boeing fuselage? My suggestion was to hand it to someone who you didn’t like, tell them to hold on to it while you slid safely onto he ground. Hoping of course that the flight crew had stowed the speed brakes and extended flaps fully to 40. If not then expect a most uncomfortable descent.