Orlando Melbourne Airport in the US state of Florida went into lockdown after a student pilot jumped the fence and tried to board a vacant American Airlines plane.
The airport's public information officer Lori Booker said the 26-year-old student jumped the fence at around 2am (local time) and boarded an Airbus A321 that was not in service.
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Ms Booker said the man was spotted by a maintenance worker, and did not know if the plane had any fuel in it or not.
She described the people who brought him into custody as "heroes", after they approached the man in the cockpit of the plane and tackled him to the ground after he did not respond to their questions in the correct manner.
The airport was closed for a time, but reopened at 7am.
The man has been taken to a local jail, and it's not known what his motives were.