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Would-Be Thief Crashes Bell 429

FBI Investigating SAC Incident

On Wednesday, 15 March 2023, sometime between 04:00 and 06:00 PDT, a thief broke into the grounds of the Sacramento Executive Airport (SAC) and endeavored to abscond with a $multi-million Bell 429 civil utility helicopter.

Lacking circumspection and airmanship in equal-measure, the crook—while attempting to fly the ill-gotten aircraft to wherever he thought he could conceal it—crashed the contraption on the airport ramp.

The Bell 429 was the fourth helicopter into which the thief broke, but the only one he managed to start.

After slamming the machine into the tarmac in such a way that it came to rest on its port-side—main and tail-rotors destroyed, tail-boom significantly damaged, and debris strewn across hundreds of square yards—the miscreant fled the scene, apparently uninjured.

Local police state they are aware of no injuries to airport staff or bystanders, and concede that an arrest has yet to be made.

“This investigation is in its early stages, and this information is preliminary as detectives work to learn exactly what occurred,” police told local news outlets.

The FBI, too, is investigating the incident. Special Agent Sean Reagan, who is heading up the case, reported that a combination of empirical evidence, witness information, and surveillance video has led the agency to a person of interest. Special Agent Reagan did not disclose, however, if or how the person of interest is connected to Sacramento Executive Airport or the helicopter—which is owned by Sacramento-based helicopter charter operator Capitol Helicopters.

In a statement, Capitol Helicopters set forth: "Sometime early this morning several helicopters operated by our company were vandalized by an individual unknown to us, and one aircraft was severely damaged. All our employees are safe, and we do not believe that anyone was injured in today’s events. This incident is currently under investigation by several state and federal authorities. We are hopeful that the people responsible are located quickly. We have no further information to report at this time. We appreciate the support from all the agencies and individuals involved."

The FBI is endeavoring to determine a motive in the attempted helicopter theft. Special Agent Reagan opined: "If someone wanted to take an aircraft for a joyride, someone who wanted to take an aircraft to do some other criminal activity or damage to other property, terrorism would be at the other end of the scope.”

FMI: www.bellflight.com


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