Wayward Pilot Sentenced To Two Years For Airplane Theft

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When Adam Leon, 31, took off from an Ontario flight school in a stolen Cessna 172 last April and flew across the border into the U.S., it was an act of desperation -- he was suicidal and hoping that he would be shot down, his lawyer said. But this week, a federal court in St. Louis sentenced Leon to two years in prison. "This is very serious," U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Under the guidelines, this is treated like a stolen car.... I think this is an extraordinary situation in terms of cost and the hours involved." After Leon crossed the border without permission, the airplane was pursued by two F-16s as well as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection airplane.

Leon was a student at a flight school in Thunder Bay, and used his student key card to gain access to the airplane, without authorization. When the fighters didn't shoot him down and the airplane ran low on fuel, Leon said, he looked for an airport but couldn't find one, so he landed on a rural road. He was arrested by the highway patrol. Leon also said he regretted his actions. "I wanted to end my life," he said, "but God gave me a second chance."