Stolen SR22, Uncertificated Pilot, Land At LAX
23-year-old Skye Turner has been charged after reportedly flying from Montgomery Field, San Diego, with an expired student pilot certificate, in a stolen Cirrus SR22, and landing (after a side trip to Palm Springs) safely at LAX. The landing took place at about 3 a.m., Friday, on a second attempt. By that time, Turner had been with the aircraft for more than six hours, a source close to the investigation told the Contra Costa Times. It had not even been a day since Joseph Stack's apparently intentional crash into an Austin office building helped raise concerns about airport security. Concern in Stack's case arose when early reports inaccurately claimed Stack had stolen his aircraft. A day later, in San Diego, operators of the Coast Flight School were left answering questions about how Turner gained access to an aircraft that belonged to one of their clients and was left in their charge. As for Turner, his first contact with LAX Tower controllers took place at about 2:25 a.m., while he was flying above 11,000 feet and 40 miles out, according to authorities. A spokesman for the controllers union told the Los Angeles Times the young man seemed "confused and disoriented, but could follow instruction." Because of his location, controllers working the tower at LAX transferred Turner to Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control in San Diego. And for simplicity those controllers stayed with him throughout the event and guided him to his landing.
Turner rejected his first approach at LAX, reportedly claiming he was flying too fast, but managed a landing on his second attempt. He was greeted on the ground by the FBI, who questioned him, and was subsequently charged for stealing the plane by the Los Angeles police. FAA records show he was granted a student pilot certificate in September of 2004. Contacted for comment, Turner's father told reporters, "I'm not surprised." He added that he was upset by the events, but "I'm glad it's come to an end. I'm glad that he's arrested. This is a good thing." Skye Turner is reportedly being held on $20,000 bond. It was not clear when AVweb went to press if any commercial flights had been affected by the young man's actions.