Canadian light aircraft stolen; Wisconsin State Capitol evacuated
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Adam Dylan Leon, a 31-year-old Canadian citizen, stole a Cessna 172 Skyhawk light aircraft from an airfield in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. After taking off, the airplane went off course toward the United States. The State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin was briefly evacuated, but the aircraft went southwest of the city and personnel were allowed back in. Two F-16 fighters had been dispatched to follow the Cessna which later landed near US 60 in Ellsinore, Missouri, but NORAD spokesman Mike Kucharek said that the aircraft was not thought to be a terrorist threat.
Sgt. Marty Elmore, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol, says Leon was arrested about 9:30 CDT near the site of his landing. Leon is a person of Turkish origin who became a Canadian citizen in 2008 and changed his name from Yavuz Berke. Leon jumped a fence and stole the plane, according to local radio.
According to Kucharek, the aircraft began behaving erratically around 2:30 CDT. He also says the pilot, at the time unidentified, appeared to acknowledge the fighter craft but did not heed their instructions. Leon's motive is not known.
The aircraft later crossed the border out of Wisconsin and passed over Illinois north of the city of St. Louis, Missouri. It flew further south before landing in Ellsinore on Route 60, at which point the pilot fled on foot. Attempts to establish contact with or discern the intentions of the pilot were unsuccessful.
The distance from Thunder Bay to Ellsinore is 795.1 miles (1,280 km), near the reported maximum range of a Cessna 172, but authorities say the aircraft had two hours of fuel left. Only Leon is believed to have been on board the aircraft.
- Robert Imrie. "Man nabbed after plane taken from Canada to Mo." — , April 6, 2009
- "Authorities: Pilot of stolen plane lands, now on run" — , April 6, 2009
- "FAA: Stolen Cessna from Canada tracked toward Iowa" — , April 6, 2009
- "F16s chase stolen Cessna aircraft over western Illinois" — , April 6, 2009
- "More information: Plane is stolen from Canada" — , April 6, 2009
- "Stolen Plane Prompts State Capitol Evacuation" — , April 6, 2009
- Robert Imrie. "F-16s following stolen plane" — , April 6, 2009
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