Airplane Thief Thwarted by Tiedown Chain

Man arrested after allegedly trying to steal a Cessna 152.

A 25-year-old former flight student allegedly showed up at the Compton Airport near Los Angeles not to say hello to his instructor or fellow students, but instead to steal an airplane. Brandishing a gun, Troy Daniel Long of Bellflower allegedly snatched the keys to a Cessna 152, started the engine and tried to make a quick getaway, according to police. There was just one problem: In his haste, Long forgot to remove the tie-down chain from the tail of the airplane.

When police arrived, Long was still seated in the Cessna, gunning the engine in a fruitless effort to make his escape. When officers drew their guns, the suspect stopped the engine and quietly surrendered. The would-be thief was arrested on suspicion of aircraft piracy, a federal crime that can carry a life sentence, and was being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles pending his bail hearing.

A query of the FAA’s airman’s database shows that Long holds a student pilot certificate and third class medical, both issued in November 2009.