Man tries to escape police by hijacking plane

- A Lakeland man had his wings clipped just seconds before he tried to hijack a small plane at Lakeland Linder Airport on Thursday.

Detectives say Gregory Hoch was riding his bicycle along Harden Blvd. when he saw a van parked across from Lakeside Village. The owner, a surveyor, had just stepped out and went around the back of the vehicle.

Detectives say Hoch jumped off his bike, into the van, and took off. As he drove down Harden, a tire blew, but he kept going. A few minutes later he pulled into the airport.

He ended up at Double M Aviation and ran through the building, onto the ramp where a small plane was revved up and ready to taxi out.

In the meantime, Lt. Eric Harper with the Lakeland Police Department had just arrived and saw Hoch climb onto the wing of the plane.

Harper sprung into action as Hock tried to open the cockpit door, and the pilot struggled to keep it shut. Lt. Harper lunged at Hoch and was able to pull him off the plane and to the ground.

"The subject's statements were - after we arrested him - 'I was going to force the pilot to fly me somewhere,'" commented Harper.

Hock didn't say where he wanted to go.However, he ended up in the Polk County Jail, charged with grand theft, trespass and more.

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