The news story about a con man pilot… that’s also a con job

The news story about a con man pilot... that's also a con jobThomas Salme, evil conman.
I thought I’d found an interesting story about a con man who lied and pretended to be an airline pilot, but instead I found an exaggerated and deceptive news story.  Here’s the entire article from The Sun:

Cockpit con was easy, says pilot

A SWEDISH conman who faked being an airline pilot for 13 years has told how it was "surprisingly easy".

Thomas Salme was banned from flying for a year and fined just £1,700 after he confessed to piloting passengers jets without a licence.

The 41-year-old revealed how he trained himself on a SIMULATOR before landing a job with Scandinavian airline Air One – and won promotion to captain after three years.

He was working as a maintenance engineer for airline SAS when a pal let him ‘fly’ the firm’s full-scale flight simulator while it was not being used.

Salme said: "I’d train there for two or three hours at a time at least 15 to 20 times over one and a half years.

"The moral point of view is that I feel ashamed that I did lie but I didn’t ever feel, not once feel, that I put passengers in an unsafe position."

Air One had invited him to take a test flight in their simulator and he passed with flying colours after faking vital documents.

"I got the crackpot idea to apply as a co-pilot at a real airline so I made myself a Swedish flying permit with a logo out of regular white paper.

"It was a fantasy creation. It wasn’t laminated and looked like something I’d made at home.

"It was surprisingly easy."

Different airlines use different permits so the fake was never spotted.

"The documents look different everywhere in Europe. An Italian airline doesn’t know what a Swedish licence looks like. And you can forge all the IDs you need."

Finally, in March, as he sat at the controls of a Boeing 737 belonging to airline Corendon he was nicked by cops following a tip off.

The plane had been minutes from takeoff with 101 people on board at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport when officers swooped.

He had clocked up 10,000 unlicensed hours in the air.

Salme did once have a commercial pilots’ licence but he was never qualified to fly passenger planes and the licence had expired.

Judges in Amsterdam rejected prosecution pleas for a custodial sentence last month and even praised his safety record.

He has since been compared to Frank Abagnale, the American who conned people into thinking he was a pilot and who was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Catch Me If You Can.

Why is this article deceptive? The implication is that Thomas Salme is a "Swedish conman" who was a maintenance engineer who forged a badge and then started flying planes. Outrageous, right?


  • He trained 30 to 60 hours on a flight simulator.
  • After three years of flying, his skills gained him a promotion to captain.
  • He took a flight test in a simulator and passed.
  • He had 10,000 hours of flight time.
  • He had a commercial pilots’ license which had expired.
  • He has been flying planes for 13 years without incident.

So the real story is that somebody tipped off authorities that Mr. Salme didn’t currently have a proper pilot’s license, and he told a story about making a fake Swedish flying permit in 1997. The real story is that it might be too easy to fake documents to get aboard a plane, so the airlines have a potential security issue. That’s different from being a story about a conman who decides he can fake being a pilot, isn’t it?

Cockpit con was easy, says pilot, The Sun>>

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