Passenger Allegedly Tries To Conceal Explosives In Checked Bag


A Pennsylvania man is in jail after security agents found an explosive device hidden in the lining of suitcase he had checked for a flight to Florida. Mark Muffley, 40, of Lansford, Pennsylvania, is facing numerous charges after his bag triggered an alarm as it was screened at Lehigh Valley International Airport on Monday. Apparently Muffley intended to accompany the bag on an Allegiant Airways flight to Orlando Sanford International Airport but apparently changed his mind after he heard his name called on the PA system. He was arrested later at his home.

Inside the bag he checked was a three-inch-diameter mass with two fuses and powder wrapped in wax paper and plastic wrap, according to the criminal complaint. The “powder is suspected to be a mixture of flash powder and the dark granulars that are used in commercial grade fireworks,” ABC News quoted the complaint as saying. “The black powder and flash powder are susceptible to ignite from heat and friction and posed a significant risk to the aircraft and passengers.” There was also “a can of butane, a lighter, a pipe with white powder residue, a [cordless] drill with … batteries, and two GFCI outlets taped together with black tape,” ABC said.

As sinister as it sounds, ABC said its sources told them it didn’t seem to be set up to go off on the plane but it caused quite a stir when TSA agents saw it. The TSA said it “was believed to possibly be a live explosive device.” The west side of the main terminal was shut down.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. How about those batteries in the “wireless drill” with “cordless batteries”? Lithium?

  2. Everything in that list was concerning, but two GFCI outlets taped together seems oddly safety-conscious for this moron. Was he planning to rewire his ex-wife’s bathroom to explode?

    • Just to make sure media outlets don’t get sued for stating that the person actually tried to conceal.

  3. Almost comical some knucklehead would think he would float on through. This is the lowest hanging fruit TSA is prepared to find. Only thing dumber might be walking up to TAS screener with open carry?

    • It was in a checked bag, not a carry on. Good to see the baggage screening is working. Given what gets through carry on screening he might have had more success that way.

  4. What is more stupid is that politicians are escorted around TSA, but the pilots, who lock themselves in the cockpit, are required to go through TSA. Personally I feel safer with the pilots than I do with a politician!

    • Given the German Wings and FedEx incidents I’m not too upset flight crews get screened. I’m not aware of politicians skipping screening. Do you have a reference for that?