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Thieves Strike Respected Oklahoma Flight School

NAV/COM Radios and GPS Units Stolen from Smith Aviation Services

An array of aircraft NAV/COM radios, GPS units, and other avionics components was reported stolen from five aircraft belonging to Goldsby, Oklahoma’s Smith Aviation Services—a family-owned flight-school and aircraft rental concern on McClain County, Oklahoma’s David Jay Perry Airport (1K4).

Proprietor Dylan Smith stated: “Whoever did it, they knew what they were doing. They knew exactly how to get them out cleanly with no damage and quickly, apparently. To be able to use them later, to be able to reuse them, resell them.”

Mr. Smith added: “Of course, it was all the aircraft that were up here right by the gate, right at the front of the property. Quick and easy to get to.”

The theft has effectively grounded Smith Aviation’s fleet of training and rental aircraft—in so doing dramatically compromising the company’s ability to produce quality aviators in the midst of an acute and global shortage of qualified pilots.

Mr. Smith explained the theft’s ramifications extend beyond the simple loss of electronic components. “This is flight-training,” he set forth, “so consistency and repetition matters.”

As all CFIs and student pilots know, flying skills, newly acquired ones in particular, are perishable—as are the myriad pedantic bits of data essential to the successful negotiation of FAA knowledge and practical tests. Interruptions to flight-training curricula are apt to occasion frustrating and costly setbacks for students and instructors alike.

Officers of the McClain County Sheriff’s Office were summoned to David Jay Perry Airport on the morning of Friday, 08 September 2023 by stakeholders in the compromised aircraft.

“We’re investigating the burglary of five separate airplanes to the amount of about $80,000 worth of avionics and plane equipment that were stolen out of the airplanes,” the Sheriff’s office reported.

Regrettably, airport surveillance cameras in the vicinity of the burgled airplanes weren’t functional at the time of the robbery. Ergo, the McClain County Sheriff’s Office conceded the search for suspects germane to the case is likely to be long and difficult.

“So basically just some traditional investigative resources or methods, you know, through prints, whatever that may be, either footprints or fingerprints. And those are just some traditional things…witnesses, anybody in there,” the sheriff’s office stated.

Smith Aviation is about the business of locating and acquiring components to replace those stolen from the five aircraft. As subject aircraft are older models, however, the likelihood of finding such components quickly and at a reasonable price is exceedingly low.



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