Intoxicated Delta pilot made it into cockpit of plane before being stopped

Updated: July 31, 2019 10:36 PM

A Delta airlines pilot was arrested Tuesday morning for being intoxicated before his scheduled flight out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The pilot, identified as Gabriel Lyle Schroeder, 37, from Rosemount, made it into the cockpit of the plane before authorities had stopped him, according to an arrest report. 


Schroeder initially walked up to a random and enhanced screening checkpoint  at the Known Crew Member entrance around 10:30 a.m. and then stopped abruptly. According to the report, the pilot "began looking around the screening area and appeared confused." He then went up to a TSA screener and asked if he had to be screened. The TSA screener told Schroeder he did, and Schroeder stated he "wasn't ready" and left the area. 

The Rosemount man was seen on an airport security camera entering a men's restroom for a brief time before exiting and returning to the screening area. The report goes on to say a 1.75 liter of Phillips Vodka was found shortly later in a trash can in the same restroom. When Schroeder returned, he stated he had forgotten his iPad in the Delta crew room. According to the report, he was "visibly shaking and appeared extremely nervous."

A detective later followed Schroeder into the aircraft that was scheduled to leave for San Diego. Schroeder was located in the cockpit, seated in the first officer's chair. The detective said Schroeder was "operating the console on the aircraft by touching various buttons."

RELATED: Delta pilot arrested for intoxication before flying out of MSP

After agreeing to speak with the detective, Schroeder stated he had not had a drink since "last Saturday." The detective stated in the report as he was speaking with the pilot, he noticed he was shaking, sweating, and could smell "a light odor of a consumed alcoholic beverage" from his breath. Schroeder told the detective he did not know why his breath smelled like that. Originally stating he did not go to the restroom and instead insisting he went to the Delta crew room, he then stated after further questioning that he "might have" gone to the restroom but denied discarding a bottle of alcohol in the trash.

According to the report, Schroeder agreed to a preliminary breath test. He then recorded a .065 blood alcohol level and was promptly placed under arrest. A search warrant said a second test, a blood sample, was taken at Fairview Southdale Hospital. 

Federal and state law make it illegal for pilots to fly with a blood alcohol level of 0.04 or higher. The Federal Aviation Administration rules prohibit pilots from drinking within eight hours of a flight.  It is also against Delta policy. 

Once the results of the second toxicology test are in, they will be forwarded to the county prosecutor's office for review of possible charges. Schroeder is out of custody and back home in Rosemount with his family. A request for comment from him and the ALPA, the Airline Pilots Association, haven't been returned. In a statement Wednesday, Delta said Schroeder is no longer flying, pending the outcome of the investigation. 

Patrick Hogan is a spokesman for Metropolitan Airports Commission and said this case showed air safety procedures worked. 

In 2018, the FAA randomly tested 12,500 pilots for alcohol at security checkpoints and reports only 10 failed.

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