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Teenage girl steals plane and crashes it into fence

Aircraft sustains ‘substantial damage’

Helen Coffey
Thursday 19 December 2019 11:10 GMT
A small plane sits parked after it was crashed into a fence by a 17-year-old girl
A small plane sits parked after it was crashed into a fence by a 17-year-old girl (AP)

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Louise Thomas

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A teenage girl broke into Fresno Yosemite International Airport and stole a plane before crashing it into a fence, officials say.

The unnamed 17-year-old breached the airport perimeter fence in California at around 7.30am local time on 18 December, according to local police.

She climbed into a King Air 200 small propeller plane and started driving it around in a circle.

While the jet never became airborne, “substantial damage” was sustained by the aircraft after the young woman crashed it into a fence, Vikkie Calderon, the airport’s public relations officer, told USA Today.

Airport and Fresno police attended the scene after receiving a 911 call.

They found the girl in the pilot’s seat and wearing the pilot’s headset.

She seemed “disoriented and was uncooperative”, according to Ms Calderon.

The girl was arrested and taken to Fresno County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of theft of an aircraft.

“No passengers or commercial airlines were ever at risk in this incident,” Ms Calderon said “The motive is still under investigation but there is no indication of any ties to domestic terrorism.”

Fresno Yosemite International Airport is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to investigate.

It’s not the first time an aircraft has been taken for a joyride.

In July, The Independent reported that a Chinese boy who stole two seaplanes and took them for a spin could receive pilot training.

The 13-year-old drove the aircraft around a car park before hitting a crash barrier with one, causing 8,000 yuan (£935) worth of damage.

The teenager from Huzhou city had spent a large part of the weekend observing staff doing maintenance work on the planes at the SeaRey base in preparation for the stunt.

The prankster’s parents only realised what their son had been up to when staff contacted them to negotiate a settlement for the damage caused.

However, he was praised for his observation skills, with the SeaRey base director saying: “We pilots all admired him.”

The director added that he would like to train the teen to become a pilot at the base.

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