Non-Pilot Charged In Cherokee Theft

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A Santa Rosa, Calif. woman, with about five hours of dual instruction, has been arrested after allegedly stealing a Piper Cherokee, running it out of gas and landing, at night, in a hay field in northern California. Authorities believe Susan Alexandria, 27, took off from Charles M. Schulz/Sonoma County Airport sometime last Tuesday and flew north until the tanks were empty. That apparently happened near an ideal spot for an off-airport landing, a dormant alfalfa field in the appropriately named Surprise Valley, near Cedarville in the northeast corner of the state. She then walked three-quarters of a mile to the town of 800 and checked into the local hotel, telling the owners she was lost but apparently omitting the airplane part.

It didn't take long for the locals to put the abandoned (and undamaged) aircraft and the mystery hotel guest together and by the time Alexandria sat down to breakfast on Thursday morning the local sheriff was waiting for her. Meanwhile, the owner of the plane, Candice Elliot, of Santa Rosa, was surprised to learn from the Cedarville newspaper, the Modoc Independent News that the aircraft was there. Elliot is Alexandria's landlady and had evicted her on Tuesday after a falling out. It was Elliot who paid for Alexandria's five hours of dual as a Christmas present in 2008.