Pilot Flying Over House Catches Thief

** Robert Haines wasn’t looking up when he
helped himself to a trailer in the driveway
of Cessna owner David Zehntner.**

Most pilots have enjoyed flying over their houses for a look-see, and Cessna Skylane owner David Zehntner is no exception. But on a flight from North Carolina to his LaBelle, Florida, home, he and his wife spotted something out of the ordinary. He told reporters, “At about 800 feet, we fly over our house. We look out and say, ‘There’s a truck in our driveway.’ So I literally drop down to 300 feet; that’s extremely low. I’m circling and watching the guy walking around and looking in our windows and testing the doors to see if he could get in.”

Despite looking up at Zehntner’s low-flying Cessna, Robert Haines, 59, of Stafford, Virginia, hitched the Zehntners’ red trailer to his truck and pulled out into traffic. Zehntner followed. He tried unsuccessfully to contact the airport Unicom, and his wife tried calling police on her cell phone, but the cabin was too noisy for her to complete the call. But when Zehntner saw Haines pull onto the interstate highway near the airport, he quickly landed and gave police a vector to intercept the alleged thief.

Haines was arrested and charged with grand theft. He also had a loaded rifle in the front of his camper and several other weapons, including a handgun. He was released on $2,500 bail.

Zehntner told ABC News, “It was quite an experience. Not sure it’s something I’d want to do every day. But the outcome is pleasing. It was worth it.”

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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