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Ottawa Man Charged with Stealing and Damaging Cessna 140

Of Close Shaves and Hanlon’s Razor

A 64-year-old Ottawa man who gained access to Ottawa-Rockcliffe Airport (YRO) then stole and crashed a Cessna 140 is facing charges of theft exceeding $5,000, dangerous operation of a conveyance, and operation while prohibited.

The Rockcliffe Airport is owned by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum—the Great White North’s national aviation history museum—and is operated by the Rockcliffe Flying Club.

On Thursday, 14 September 2023, Emergency crews responded to an 18:30 EDT call reporting an aircraft mishap on the Sir George-Etienne Cartier Parkway in the vicinity of the aforementioned Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

To the subject of the theft, police stated: "He [the suspect] attempted to fly the plane from the airport but gained minimal air and then crashed, striking two parked planes in the process.”

The purloined Cessna suffered serious damage, coming to rest in an unmaintained area of the airport. The condition of the two parked airplanes struck by the accident-aircraft remains unclear.

According to an Ottawa paramedic spokesperson, the suspect, after being arrested at YRO, was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries and in stable condition.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSBC) was advised of the crime but referred the investigation of such to the Ottawa Police Service. TSBC officials temporarily closed the Rockcliffe Airport to all inbound and outbound air traffic for purpose of facilitating the police investigation.

The extent of the damage wrought upon the stolen aircraft compelled Canadian aviation specialist Phyl Durdey to state: "It looks like the spar is broken, the wing spar is broken. As you can tell … it has been bent pretty bad. You have to sit there and evaluate whether it’s fixable in the way of cost, if it’s cost-effective to fix the aircraft. It is a classic airplane; a lot of people do rebuild them because it is a classic."

Durdey remarked, also, on the infrequency of aircraft thefts, setting forth: "The aircraft are in a secure area, the aircraft are locked, the doors are locked on the airplane and the keys are usually kept with the owner."

Ottawa police have released neither the suspect’s name nor data pertaining to any pilot certification he may or may not hold. The charge of operation while prohibited levied against the individual ought not be construed implication of a suspended or revoked pilot certificate insofar as, under Canadian law, operation of any type of vehicle while impaired is apt to result in a ban on the operation of all types of motor vehicles.



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