Media in Atlanta are reporting a strange story today -- over the
weekend, a Cessna Citation VII stolen from St. Augustine, Florida,
turned up at Briscoe Field in the Atlanta-area town of
Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia.
The Citation, a 1995 model operated by Pinnacle Air Jet Charter
of Springdale, Arkansas, was parked in St. Augustine at about 10:40
AM Saturday, dropping off clients, and the crew went off duty.
Monday, they discovered that their plane was... gone. (That's got
to be a really strange feeling).
They reported the apparent theft to local police at 11:30
As there is no record of it landing while the control tower at
Briscoe was open, it's assumed to have landed there between 9PM
Saturday, when the duty controller shut down, and 6:30 AM Sunday,
when he arrived for the 7 AM opening of the tower and Class D
airspace. One witness reportedly saw someone walking away from the
plane Sunday night.
Many media reports have
played up the national security angle, some to the point of
hysteria, but Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found
a contrary opinion from expert Jonathan Bernstein of Bernstein
Crisis Management. "A tanker truck full of explosive fuel is a much
bigger concern than a private aircraft being stolen," Bernstein
The jet appears to have damage to one wing's leading edge. The
damage reportedly was not present when the Pinnacle Air crew parked
The airplane, N182PA, (formerly N750PB) is a 1995 Citation VII
or model 650, serial number 650-7049. It's owned by a
corporation that appears to have been established for the sole
purposes of owning the plane, and is registered to a mail drop in
Dallas; this kind of set-up is commonly used by bizjet owners to
The FBI dispatched agents from the Terrorism Task Force, but
have tentatively concluded that terrorism was not involved.
Speculation so far centers on drug traffickers. Last December, a
plane crashed in California, and the pilot fled. The plane was
found to be loaded with cocaine. Authorities are still seeking the
man believed to be the pilot, Eugene Nicholas Cobbs of Los
FBI, FAA and other Federal law enforcement agents are continuing
to investigate in cooperation with local police in St. Augustine
and Lawrenceville. Local police evidence technicians have processed
Pinnacle Air Jet Charter has been assisting the authorities in
the investigation, and will pick up the plane sometime today