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Canadian sentenced 2 years for stolen plane

Nov 3, 2009, St. Louis – A 31-year-old Canadian man has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing a plane in Canada and flying over three states before landing along a dark southern Missouri highway.


November 4, 2009
By Administrator

Nov 3, 2009, St. Louis – A 31-year-old Canadian man has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing a plane in Canada and flying over three states before landing along a dark southern Missouri highway.

Adam Dylan Leon had admitted in August to all federal charges he'd faced: interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, importation of a stolen aircraft and illegal entry.

Leon was born Yavuz Berke in Turkey before moving to Canada, changing his name, and becoming a naturalized citizen. He was described as a good student and was well-liked at the Confederation

College Flight School in Thunder Bay, Ont., where the plane was stolen. He admitted that on April 6, he stole a four-seat Cessna 172 from his flight school and crossed the U.S. border. Leon landed the plane more than seven hours later on a road off of Highway 60 near Ellsinore, Mo. He has told the court he suffered from depression.

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The unauthorized flight into U.S. air space prompted two F-16 jet fighters into action, tailing the plane until it landed near Ellsinore, Mo., more than seven hours after it was reported stolen.

The state Capitol in Madison, Wis., was evacuated for a time because authorities were not sure whether the pilot was a terrorist or had some other hostile motive. The FBI and Missouri State Highway Patrol have said Leon told them he was trying to commit suicide, hoping U.S. fighter jets would shoot him down. A spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defence Command said earlier that shooting down the plane was never seriously considered. The F-16 pilots used hand gestures and flares to try and persuade the pilot to land.

Authorities said the plane was nearly out of fuel when it landed on a former stretch of U.S. 60 that is now just a loop off the main highway. The Highway Patrol said Leon got a ride from a passer-by to a store, where he bought a Gatorade and sat at a booth until authorities arrived.