TSA agents at the Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) discovered a rocket launcher in the American Airlines baggage area on Thursday, news sources report. This was the second rocket launcher seized at the airport this week. It does not appear as though any criminal charges have been filed.
The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshall reported that the item was discovered at around 5:20 a.m. and the bomb squad was called in immediately.
The rocket launcher was reportedly seized from a U.S. Air Force sergeant who brought it back on a military flight as a memento. Fortunately, the launcher was confirmed to be inert by U.S. military officials, who sent out a press release stating that the item was “empty of any explosive hazard.”
Despite this, authorities have observed that “there is a slight chance that it could contain pressurized gas, and was, therefore, not allowed on the Sergeant’s connecting commercial flight.”
The Office of the Maryland State’s bomb squad currently has possession of the rocket launcher. They have taken the item until they can safely return it to its owner.
This past Monday, the 29th of July, another rocket launcher was found at BWI Airport. This one was a Griffin missile launcher, belonging to an unidentified man from Jacksonville, Texas. The man, reported to be an on-duty military officer, had packed the launcher into his luggage on his way home from Kuwait. He, too, had kept it as a memento from his time abroad.
Thankfully, the Fire Marshall found that the item did not have any explosives and was completely safe. The launcher was then disposed of, and the man was permitted to board his flight.
Both incidents have caused the Transportation Security Administration or TSA to stress their policy on explosive devices on social media. The TSA even posted a Tweet on Monday, stating “the right way to pack a grenade is not to pack it at all.”
The tweet was about another incident at Newark Liberty International Airport, where a grenade was discovered in a passenger’s luggage. The grenade was eventually found by experts to be a replica.
TSA has issued a strong reminder for all passengers not to bring any explosive devices or weapons to the airport, even if they are inert or replicas. A TSA representative stated that “military weapons are not permitted in checked or carry-on bags.”
On a lighter note, the incidents have caused a lot of buzz on social media about the bizarre items found by TSA. In regards to the rocket launcher incident, TSA representatives have remarked that “perhaps [the military officer] should have picked up a keychain instead.”
The agency even maintains an Instagram account and a YouTube channel where they share their most unusual finds, including throwing stars, human skulls, and live animals, including eels and snakes. With almost a million subscribers each, both social media accounts are very popular.
TSA is also known to answer questions about authorized items on social media. The agency’s social media accounts are very informative about their policies and guidelines on what passengers are permitted to bring onto a flight.