Teen Arrested For Stealing King Air


A 17-year-old girl was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly stealing and crashing a King Air 200 at California’s Fresno Yosemite International Airport (KFAT). The teen reportedly gained access to the ramp by climbing a fence near an airport maintenance building. It is not yet known how she was able to get into the aircraft and start one of the engines.

“The aircraft then began to move and pivot and crashed into a building and a fence on airport property,” said Airport Public Safety Chief Drew Bessinger. “The aircraft never became airborne and there was no fire. The aircraft did sustain some substantial damage, however.”

According to Bessinger, police responded to a 911 call reporting the theft and the crash. When officers arrived on the scene, they found the girl in the pilot’s seat of the aircraft. The incident took place at approximately 7:30 a.m. local time in the general aviation area of the airport. No injuries were reported and investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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    • My apologies Paul – I was only calling out a comment that I felt was clearly sexist and inappropriate. I didn’t think my response was disrespectful. Nonetheless I do apologize – Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • Since I felt that plane thieves are the lowest of the low, I guess I don’t have anything that I can say that would be seen as “respectful” on this topic. Thanks Paul. Moving on…

      • I agree. I see nothing respectful about anyone that would attempt to take a plane w/o proper training. Not sure what this gent means by respectful or how he can delete our comments.

        What I do see, coming from a Reserve LEO position, is an out of control drug issue in America and kids who play games thinking they can actually fly a real A/C. During one of my Airshows, this 16-year-old smart ass walks up telling me how he can handle a 747 since he plays with it on the computer all day.

    • I’m a certificated pilot, current with over 1,000 hours, and I’m not sure I could get a King Air started. So I’m with you, very surprised she could do it.

      • I’m with you but, YuoTube?
        This information can e found online pretty easily. I’m sure there’s more to come.

  1. Folks, and Mike B and David T, ” how to start a King Air 200″ is all over YouTube. Just sayin’.

  2. Since when do we have to be “respectful” of criminals… especially the type who are most often (and thus disproportionately) the carjackers and other most violent criminals in the USA?
    Would this factoid be OK? The stereotypical amateur untrained light aircraft thief is a young white male but this incident defied the norm, being a black female teenager who was running away from home and wanted to go far and at high speed and came surprisingly close to achieving her objective.

  3. A couple of interesting parts not reported here, but reported by our local news in the DCA area yesterday were that the girl put up a struggle with authorities when they arrived and found her still in the cockpit. Also that her mother stated that, “she doesn’t even know how to drive a car.”

  4. Leaving the door (of most modern aircraft unlocked) is akin to leaving the keys in the ignition with the car doors unlocked. There is a step by step starting checklist in every King Air. The start switch is marked START. But the battery MASTER switch (under the gang bar) and the CONDITION lever a bit tougher to locate. All in all quite amazing that she put it together. I am still in awe of the Dash 8 theft in SEA a while back. Not only did he get it started and airborne quite nicely, the Acro was very good. We need pilots in aviation. Let’s try to get these folks involved Properly before they make the wrong choices.

    Pray that the courts help this young lady instead of throwing away the key.

    God bless and Merry Christmas.

    • It used to be you would never worry in the normal course of events that someone would do this. Back in the early eighties with particular types of planes it was an issue with drug runners stealing planes but eventually they figured out it was easier and less risky just buying them. We live in a different world where anyone can figure out just about anything from the various sources on internet and people have little regard for others property or even their own well being. So precautions must be taken that were never needed before.

  5. If and when this young lady is convicted. Her punishment should be 1000 hours of service at the airport. With those she harmed introducing how great aviation is. Get her interested in aviation and she’ll discover on her own how destructive her actions are. Convert her.

    • Certainly her parents will have some liability for the damages. In Ohio, for intentional acts involving motor vehicles (which includes airplanes in some states) the statutory damages are not limited.

  6. 7:30 in the morning??? Really?? I would have thought maybe after a night of drinking at 1am. Who gets up early to joy ride in a plane? Well….I guess she does. LOL