Bloomberg News

Explosive Device Seized From United Passenger, U.S. Says

March 29, 2012

A Pennsylvania man was charged with attempting to take an explosive device onto a United Airlines flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco, U.S. prosecutors said.

Joseph Picklo, 29, of Dallas, Pennsylvania, tried to get on the aircraft with two homemade M80s, or firecrackers, a plastic bottle wrapped in electrical tape and partially filled with a powdery mixture, and a test tube with a wick containing another substance, prosecutors said in a statement.

Picklo was stopped at about 6 a.m. as he went through security at Terminal D in the Philadelphia International Airport. Agents with the Transportation Security Administration found the items, including a cigarette lighter, after searching Picklo’s carry-on backpack, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Philadelphia.

Picklo is in federal custody in Philadelphia after appearing in a magistrate’s court today, according to the statement. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges.

Self-Employed Salesman

Picklo described himself to authorities as a self-employed salesman who experimented with explosives, and told them he forgot he was carrying the fireworks, the Fox News affiliate in Philadelphia reported earlier today.

“The training and alertness of the officers at the Philadelphia checkpoint prevented these items from being brought on board an aircraft,” Philadelphia TSA Federal Security Director Robert Ellis said in a statement. The incident closed the TSA checkpoint for about 40 minutes, the agency said in a statement. Philadelphia is the 19th-busiest airport in North America, with 30.8 million passengers in 2010, according to Airports Council International, a trade group. It’s also a hub for US Airways Group Inc., which controls almost half the flights there, according to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

United Airlines is a unit of United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL:US)

The case is U.S. v, Picklo, 12-538-m, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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  • UAL
    (United Continental Holdings Inc)
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