A sad tale of a stolen aircraft

Submitted by Cheryl Andrade (who is a member of EAA chapter 818 as well as our own).


On 18 AUG 20 a non-pilot was observed to be acting strangely at the Jefferson County Airport [OS9]. He wanted to rent an aircraft, but could not produce a pilot certificate. The conditions were daytime, clear, and calm. Later he came back to the airport, broke into an office and stole keys and log book for N11513, a Cessna 150L.

It came out later that the individual, one Richard R. Jurdal of Richland, WA, was a Student Pilot, who had not yet soloed. He did, in fact, succeed in taking the aircraft and got 100 miles west where he crashed into dense forest at Quillayute, WA. The aircraft was totally destroyed. Due to the densely wooded nature of the crash site, the wreckage was not found for about 12 hours. As it turned out Mr. Jurdal was still alive when found, but was in “serious condition.” He was taken to Harborview hospital in Seattle where he was listed as “critical” until he died the next day.

What Can Be Learned?

  1. If someone is “acting squirrely” around your airport, and you see it, do something about it.
  2. Keep your hangar door locked, and keep your aircraft locked. [My hangar has three sliding doors that employ grooved wheels that run on metal tracks at the bottom. Merely padlocking two or three doors together does not secure the hangar. Multiple doors can be slid open together. So, the doors need to be secured to the walls of the hangar at each end as well. I actually have two padlocks between the three doors and two latches at the ends. These end latches can only be operated from the inside.

I don’t have key start, but I do have a canopy lock, gas cap locks, and wing locker locks. Anyway, I urge you to think about the security of your hangar and aircraft. A good friend, renter of a nearby hangar, has one padlock that he rarely locks. I am going to tell him about this incident. Written by Stu Ashley EAA 818 Nov. 2020 Newsletter