A news.com.au correspondent in Texas writes:

A FORMER shipping clerk pleaded guilty in a US court today to shipping himself from New York to Dallas in a wooden cargo crate.

Charles McKinley, 25, pleaded guilty to stowing away on a cargo jet.

Possible punishment ranges from probation to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. He will be sentenced on February 4.

McKinley’s lawyer Bill Glaspy said he advised his client to plead guilty because “he told what he did to every newspaper and television station in the country, I think”.

McKinley, who worked at a New York warehouse, journeyed overnight about 2,415km by truck, plane and delivery van before popping out of the box September 6 at his startled parents’ home in DeSoto, a Dallas suburb.

The shaken delivery company employee left the house and called police.

McKinley has said he made the 15-hour trip - eluding security at five airports - because he was homesick and thought he could save money by flying cargo.

McKinley said he took a cell phone, which didn’t work, but no food or water.

He told some reporters he occasionally got out of the crate, which was only about a metre tall.

He also said an accomplice closed the box and shipped him. But in his signed statement to the FBI, McKinley claimed no-one else was involved.

The incident renewed debate over the United States’ air cargo system’s vulnerability to terrorists.

Unlike the tight federal security for airline passengers, air cargo receives little federal scrutiny and is the responsibility of the shipper.

The Associated Press