Danny Casillo swam to the airport for help, after his jet ski broke down in the Jamaica Bay just off the coast of New York's JFK airport.
He was able to scale an airport fence and walk across the runway undetected by security cameras or motion detectors.
"I looked around, no lights. No boats, nothing. No noise; just pitch black," said Casillo.
Through the darkness, all he could see was the control tower.
After a three mile swim and hike through a muddy marsh, cold and disoriented, Casillo reached a chain linked, barbed wire fence at the airport.
"I just made the decision I'm going to have to get found," he said.
He walked across taxiways and runways, but no one saw him, and none of the cameras and motion detectors the airport recently spent millions of dollars for picked him up.
"I figured I was going to be on cameras; that somebody was going to pick me up, and maybe a helicopter was going to come or a police car - something. Nothing happened, to the point where I had to walk up to a cargo worker," said Casillo.
In the end, Casillo was arrested and charged with felony trespass, finally pleading guilty to a misdemeanor; the only one to pay for an alarming breakdown in security.
"If a 31-year-old jet skier could penetrate the system, then we have deficiencies, and they have to be addressed, before the next time we see a terrorist with very sinister motives," said Rep. William Keating, (D) Massachusetts.
"This is a big deal," said Casillo. "I didn't meat to do this, but I exposed something really important, and that is a flaw in security."
Danny is now suing the port authority, saying he was questioned for hours without offer of warm clothes, medical treatment or food.
The port authority has not yet responded to those charges.