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"Stolen plane at Wisconsin airport raises 9/11 concerns"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stolen plane at Platteville airport raises 9/11 concerns
The Wisconsin State Journal

It looked like a simple case of a small plane stolen from a small airport:
Sometime after Aug. 1, somebody broke into a locked hangar at the
Platteville Municipal Airport and flew away with a 1976 Cessna 210.
But with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks fast approaching and
the National Football League season opener in Green Bay coming up, Grant
County Sheriff Keith Govier wasn't taking any chances.
"We contacted the FAA and we contacted Homeland Security," Govier said, out
of concern a stolen plane could be used in a terrorist attack.
An FAA official had no comment on the matter and referred questions to
Homeland Security, which emailed a statement from the Transportation
Security Administration.
The TSA said it works with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association to
operate a nationwide Airport Watch Program that uses local residents to
observe and report suspicious activity.
Govier said he has not seen or heard of any other suspicious activity.
"We have had no activity here on our radar screen that would indicate any
terrorist activity," he said. "The people who are like that and who operate
in this area, being in a rural area, would stick out like a sore thumb."
"We just think this is a case of a stolen airplane," he added.
So how do you steal a Cessna?
Jeff Hughes, the Platteville airport manager, said it's similar to stealing
a car.
"A lot of these old planes have a simple ignition system," Hughes said. "It
wouldn't be hard to hotwire one."
Authorities did not identify the owner of the plane, but the theft was
reported by David Burbach, of Platteville's Burbach Aquatics Inc., according
to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
"It could have been gone a couple of weeks before we noticed it," Hughes
"It has a number on the side of the plane, but if it was gone for two weeks
and not reported stolen, they could have been flying it anywhere and nobody
would have known anything," Hughes added. "In two weeks you can get a long
ways away."
Hughes said the Cessna wasn't stolen during daylight hours. "I'm here at the
airport seven days a week," he said. "Whoever took it would have had to have
done it in the middle of the night."
Govier said this marked the first time he has dealt with a stolen airplane.

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