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Man arrested for using radio to redirect air traffic, police helicopters

February 1st, 2021 at 8:20 PM
man radios aircraft
  • A man in Germany has been arrested for using two-way radios to mess with air traffic.
  • The man, who is 32 years old but remains unnamed, used his radios to attempt to redirect aircraft and even police helicopters.
  • The man was fooling around with official aircraft communications channels for six months before he was caught. 

When there’s a global pandemic happening, lots of people tend to stay indoors. Staying indoors for long periods of time can inevitably lead to boredom and, well, boredom can lead to some very questionable decisions. As one German man recently learned, using your spare time to mess with air traffic is not a great decision.

The unnamed 32-year-old man reportedly spent six months using his two-way radios to access the frequencies used by aircraft. He used those radios to send instructions and directions to planes and even police helicopters. He effectively impersonated an aviation official, and while none of his erroneous directions led to anything super serious (like a crash, for instance), police still needed to track him down.

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As AP reports, the man was arrested at his home in the capital city of Berlin. How he came to be identified is a bit of a mystery, based on the report, but the man’s habit of contacting aircraft in his area sounds like it backfired in a spectacular way.

The man apparently contacted a police helicopter that had been dispatched specifically to catch the man. Falling for the bait, the man contacted the police helicopter and law enforcement was able to locate him shortly thereafter. A search of the man’s home reportedly returned a pair of radios that had the capability to broadcast on the same frequencies used by aircraft.

Over the course of six months, police claim the man contacted a whole bunch of planes and helicopters in the region, including “state and federal helicopters,” passenger aircraft, and transport planes. He would give the pilots various instructions and of the course of his shenanigans, he began acting more and more professional, which likely made it harder for pilots to know when they were or weren’t being duped.

The man’s instructions did not cause any accidents, thankfully, but it’s unclear what the man’s motives were. He clearly wanted to mess with the pilots of the planes and helicopters, but to what end? If he did indeed want to cause crashes, then he’s obviously got some very serious problems. Police described the fake instructions as “potentially dangerous,” which is a generous way of looking at things if I’m being totally honest.

In any case, the man has been charged with a variety of crimes. With his radios seized, he won’t be making any prank communications any time soon, and he might face some serious prison time depending on what a judge thinks.

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Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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