Student Pilot Sentenced Flying Stolen Aircraft Into The US





Student Pilot Sentenced Flying Stolen Aircraft Into The US

By Daniel Baxter  

Adam Dylan Leon

November 10, 2009 - St. Louis, Missouri, Canadian Student Pilot, Adam Dylan Leon was sentenced 24 months in prison on charges of interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft and illegal entry into the United States. Adam Dylan Leon was a joint Turkish-Canadian citizen residing in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. He had been taking aviation classes at Confederation College of Applied Arts and Technology in Thunder Bay.

On April 6, 2009, Leon stole a Cessna 172 training aircraft from Confederation College, took off without authorization, and piloted the aircraft southward across the border of the United States.  He did not obtain approval from air traffic control and did not respond to radio contact. Due to the unknown nature of the flight and Leon’s lack of radio communication, appropriate authorities were notified of the plane’s location and direction of travel.  


American and Canadian authorities coordinated a prompt response to ensure the public safety. United States Department of Defense and Customs and Border Patrol aircraft intercepted the Cessna 172 after it entered United States airspace, and closely tracked its progress.  

Attempts to communicate with Leon were unsuccessful. After flying the plane southward through United States airspace for several hours, Leon landed the plane on a road off of Highway 60 near Ellsinore, MO. He was arrested shortly after by the Missouri Highway Patrol at a local grocery store in Ellsinore. 

“Illegally entering the United States in a stolen plane is tantamount to a breach of our nation's borders,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. “We work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify border security threats and investigate those who violate U.S. immigration and customs laws.” 

“This turned out not to be a terrorist act and fortunately no one got hurt,” said Roland J. Corvington, special agent in charge of the FBI in St. Louis. “But today’s sentencing shows how the FBI and its partners take national security seriously by dedicating unlimited hours and resources needed to resolve what was a threat at the time.” 

Adam Dylan Leon, a.k.a. Yavuz Berke, 31, of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, pleaded guilty in August to one felony count of interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, one felony count of importation of a stolen aircraft, and one count of illegal entry into the United States. He appeared on November 3, 2009, for sentencing before United States District Judge Charles A. Shaw, in St. Louis, Missouri.

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