Police: Pilot tried to strike officers with plane

A pilot is in jail after almost striking two officers with his plane and shutting down the Griffin-Spalding Airport for 45 minutes, police said.

Dan Wayne Gryder, 48, from Griffin, a commercial airline pilot and private instructor, is being held in the Spalding County jail, charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of obstruction.

Griffin code enforcement officers were called to the airport on Wednesday for a report of a pilot disrupting the airport. Gryder was driving his car across the runway and taxiway, Griffin Police Investigator Bryan Clanton said.

The two officers approached the suspect and he gave them a fake name. After learning the pilot was Gryder, the officers attempted to issue him six citations, police said.

However, Gryder refused to sign the tickets and boarded his plane, a 1937 DC-3A. He started the engine and told one of the officers that if she moved, he would strike her car, police said.

The officer, who was standing next to the prop, moved out of the way and summoned backup.

Additional Griffin officers and Spalding County deputies flooded the area and ordered him to stop, but Gryder continued to taxi down the runway.

Gryder got to the end of the runway and attempted to take off, but he didn’t make it far, police said.

“It appears that Gryder did not have enough fuel for a flight,” Sgt. John Hayes said.

Gryder demanded the officers get a fuel truck for him.

Instead, the officers surrounded the plane and took Gryder into custody.

“The suspect exited his aircraft then started walking towards his truck nonchalantly. It appears that he thought he would simply drive away, but he was arrested,” Clanton said.

Gryder’s actions disrupted air traffic, prohibiting flights from departing or arriving, police said.

“He essentially shut the airport down for almost 45 minutes,” Clanton said. “His actions created a danger for all of our officers, himself, and others who lawfully use the airport.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating and may file additional charges, police said.

The airport director did not immediately return phone calls.