Aircraft Damaged After Student Denied Solo


A 23-year-old flight student at Treasure Coast Flight Training in Stuart, Florida, is facing numerous charges after at least 10 aircraft were vandalized earlier this week. Officials allege he damaged the planes after being denied a solo flight.

In a Facebook post, the Martin County Sheriff’s department said the student, Sumebh Singh, was arrested at Witham Field Airport Monday afternoon on charges of felony criminal mischief after damaging throttles on 10 of the school’s aircraft.

According to Chief Deputy John Budensiek, Singh had allegedly paid $50,000 to Treasure Coast Flight Training and became agitated after instructors told him he wasn’t ready to solo. According to the Deputy, Singh’s goal was to cause $50,000 in damages for what he had paid to the school.

Investigators said all flight school aircraft have since been grounded until mechanics can evaluate the extent of the damage. “We’re not certain that that’s all the damage he did,” Budensiek said. “That’s just what we can immediately see.”

Budensiek also mentioned Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been notified as Singh is an Indian citizen.

Amelia Walsh
Amelia Walsh is a private pilot who enjoys flying her family’s Columbia 350. She is based in Colorado and loves all things outdoors including skiing, hiking, and camping.

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  1. This is a clear indication that this person is NOT fit to assume the responsibility of being a pilot.
    Or maybe this guy is going to blame ‘shrooms too?

  2. A hard and expensive way to root out those unfit or the cockpit at any level (especially considering recent events) including primary training. I’m not going to speculate here, but one has to wonder if the increased access to home computer flight simulator programs (MSFS & X-Plane specifically) has had any negative impact on how young students react to real world instruction vs. just being in front of a computer at home and learning bad practices.

    What I can say however is that I have met more than one instructor who cringed when he or she took on a new student pilot and the first thing the new student said was “I learned how to fly on Microsoft Flight Simulator.” Breaking bad habits to learn all over again is twice the work. And then of course there are those who just weren’t cut out with the coordination gift of “getting it” after so many hours as a student not signed off for solo.

    • Sim learning can be positive or negative, for sure. There is a lot of positive potential, but it usually requires some guidance to be of value – self-directed tends to reinforce bad habits for sure.

      This guy is probably from an affluent family (by Indian standards at least), and is used to getting what he wants. He may not take well to hearing ‘no’. Source: I used to be an instructor at schools that focused on students from other countries. This is NOT to say they are all like that – far from it.

    • WTF … you made a pretty big leap there from someone committing a felony to flight training on home SIMs.
      Go speculate somewhere else… like at TMZ

      • Why don’t you save your WTF’s for “somewhere else”? My comment will no doubt tick you off. Too bad. Look up the word ‘decorum’.

    • Microsoft Flight Simulator has been around since the 80s. Sure, it has increased in fidelity quite a bit since 1.0, but certainly by 2000 it was photo-realistic enough, so the access to home flight sims is nothing new. I would say home flight sims have nothing at all to do with this.

      • Seconded. I still remember my primary instructor asking me how it was that I was already already so proficient with VOR navigation when I started taking lessons. It was completely due to my having practiced with MS flight simulator before ever taking lessons. In the ’80s.

  3. Well, law enforcement needs to be sympathetic and accommodating to this student from India.
    Basically find out what the penalty is for such actions would be in India and, in the spirit of understanding, only mead out those punishments to him as if he were in his home country. We should not impose our ways onto his cultural norms. We just need to find the equivalent of an Indian prison…

  4. I hope they can get him for every cent they’re out – lost flight time, all of it. He’s probably got it. Good luck with that though.

  5. If this individual spent 50k and had not soloed, that’s 200 hours of dual. There has to be more to this story as the reports just don’t add up.

    • The linked article says the school offers housing and shuttle-bus service to the airport in addition to flight lessons. That could explain the higher costs.

      The student claims to have already been a pilot in India. If true, then not being able to even solo here would’ve been quite a blow to his ego and reputation.

      • Makes me wonder what he was flying. 🤔 Ultralights maybe? There’s a huge difference between that and trying to learn a Cessna at a Tower controlled airport. It’s pretty safe to assume that English isn’t his first language, and talking to ground might have been one of the things tripping him up. It could also slow down his training. 🐌 🦥

  6. “According to the Deputy, Singh’s goal was to cause $50,000 in damages for what he had paid to the school.”

    According to Treasure Coast Flight Training’s website: “If you would like to become a Professional Pilot, the total cost of flight training will be between $35,000 and $85,000, depending on the courses you choose.”

    So that appears to indicate his intention was to become a professional pilot. If this is an example of his decision-making skill level, he needs to find a new career path. For now, this guy should be introduced to the opportunities in the license plate manufacturing field.

  7. Yeah, I would want him piloting my next commercial flight. A total loose cannon. If he was successful in his $50k damage, his non-ticket should now cost him $100k + lost time on the aircraft, jail time, and eventual deportation. Definitely from a more affluent family as the median income at home could not support his initial costs.

  8. I had my first solo in a C-150 after a grand total of 5.9 hours dual, and it wasn’t my idea! But things are different now, it takes more than that just to learn the avionics or glass panel, which can vary greatly from one plane to another. But this guy doesn’t have the composure or temperament to pilot an aircraft.

  9. Learning to fly on a light sport aircraft or ultralight for that matter, teaches the skill of using the seat of your pants. Perhaps the pilot of the Air France aircraft he super-stalled into the Atlantic didn’t have enough seat of the pants flying experience. He couldn’t feel the aircraft “wallowing “ ??

  10. I have visited this flight school. It’s a grist mill that caters to foreign wanna be pilots. ESL is a big issue.

  11. My guess is the $50K was for complete training not just to solo. The fact that he could not qualify to solo means they should have suggested another vocation, gave him a pro rata refund and said goodbye?

  12. It is unfortunate that access to flight is decided more and more by the size of one’s bank account, not aptitude. It’s never been a poor person’s game but it seems the US is headed down the same path as countries in the EU and Latin America – only rich brats get to fly.

    Not sure what the guy’s financial status is or family situation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a doted-on, pampered brat from a very young age.