On Sunday night, Paul Michael Weddle, of Henderson, Nevada, did something we've all thought about doing. While drunk, he allegedly stole and flew Cessna 208 owned by Scenic Airways, which operates aerial tours of the Grand Canyon.
Police were called to the airport in Boulder City, Nevada after an employee of Scenic Airlines reported the airplane had been stolen. After police arrived, Weddle returned the plane to the airport - but took to the air again immediately. Pilots call this maneuver a "touch and go." He performed a total of five touch and goes before landing for the final time, knocking over a light on the taxiway as he struggled to control the plane.
After coming to a stop and being ordered to leave the plane, Weddle ignored the officer's demand. "In the 20-plus years I've been here, it's the first time we've done a felony stop on an airplane" said Sergeant John Glenn of the Boulder City P.D. Weddle was tackled to the ground after he was seen reaching for the waistband of his pants and his pockets. He brandished an object, which ended up being a radio.
Paul Michael Weddle
Weddle was given a breathalyzer test, which showed he had a .132 blood alcohol volume. He told police he was "trying to complete the takeoff and landing portion of earning his pilots license." He was admitted to the hospital due to injuries sustained in the scuffle with the police, and was later transported to the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas. He has been charged with operating an aircraft while under the influence, unlawful taking of an aircraft, and obstructing a police officer. He is scheduled to appear in court today.
In February 2012, a similar, yet fatal event occurred in Fresno, California, where a non-certified pilot stole, flew and crashed a Cessna 172 into some power lines before hitting the ground. An investigation revealed methamphetamine and amphetamine in the pilot's blood and liver. A plastic bag containing crystal meth was also found in the aircraft.
Cessna 208 image - aircraftinformation.info
Mugshot image - Boulder City Police Department