Thomas Salme (born February 18, 1969) is a Swedish pilot and photographer, living and working in Milan, Italy. He became a celebrity after flying passenger jets for an astonishing thirteen years without a licence.
Thomas Salme was deeply influenced by his father, from whom he inherited both his passion for flying and photography. He first fell in love with piloting at the age of 8, when he accompanied his father on a photo shooting at the Swedish airport of Arlanda.
Despite his family's financial conditions, which could't allow him a proper training, he decided not to give up on his dream to become a pilot and, thanks to a friend of his working as a simulator technician at SAS Scandinavian Airlines, he managed to sneak into the training centre at night where he would train on the flight simulator for two or three hours at a time, at least 15 to 20 times over one and a half years.
In 1997, he finally felt ready to test his flying skills on a real Boeing and therefore he decided to apply for the Italian airline company Air One as a co-pilot. In order to achieve his purpose, he made himself a Swedish flying permit with a logo out of regular white paper, with a forged ID number.
In 1999, he was appointed captain and kept on working in Air One until 2006. He then moved to the Turkish and Dutch airline company Corendon, where he worked as a Captain for a year, before being offered a new contract at the English Jet2. After only ten months he decided to go back to work for Corendon Airlines, where he regularly flew passenger jets for other two years before he was arrested in 2010.
He was caught at Amsterdam's Schipol Airport in March 2010, while seated in the cockpit of a Corendon Boeing 737 carrying 101 passengers just a few minutes before take-off.
Present Life and Career
He is now a caring father of two sons and currently lives in Milan, Italy, where he works as a professional fashion and sport photographer for several magazines and football companies, such as AC Inter. He has recently completed a photo shoot around the major State Parks in the USA, which will soon be shown in a charity exhibition.
He has also collected all his amazing experience as a co-pilot in the book En bluffpilots bekannelse (confessions of a con pilot) Thomas Salme 13 Years in Heaven, published in 2012 by Norstetds Pubishing.