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Canadian Plane Thief Gets Two Years

November 5, 2009 — Adam Dylan Leon, 31, the Canadian student pilot who back on April 6, 2009, stole a Cessna 172 and flew across the U.S. border hoping to get shot down by U.S. military aircraft, was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday in St. Louis federal court. That’s a longer sentence than the 12 to 18 months called for by the federal guideline, which was deemed too lenient by U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw.

“Under the guidelines, this is treated like a stolen car,” the judge said. “This is very serious. I think this is an extraordinary situation in terms of cost and the hours involved. And it posed a significant disruption to government.” Total cost to the government for the incident was estimated to be more than a quarter million dollars.

Leon took a fully fueled airplane from the Thunder Bay, Ontario, flight school he attended, and flew south over Lake Superior, crossing the U.S. Border, alerting NORAD, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and several states’ air national guard aircraft. Leon ignored all attempts to contact him, and eventually landed on a rural road in Ellsinore, Missouri - about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis. He was soon apprehended at a nearby store by local authorities.

A story in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoted Leon as saying, “I regret what I have done. I wanted to end my life, but God gave me a second chance.”

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