Man Steals Plane, Threatens To Crash It

ASHLAND, Ohio (AP) - A man took off in a stolen plane and threatened over the radio to kill himself by crashing until a Columbus pilot who overheard him talked him into landing.

Christine Hoadley, 23, told WCMH-TV in Columbus that she instructed the man, who had never landed by himself, how to bring down the plane Tuesday afternoon. After 2½ hours of trying to calm him over the radio while circling the Ashland County airport, the man landed safely on the runway, veering into some grass, sheriff's Capt. Carl Richert said.

Hoadley overheard the man's mayday calls while she was practicing landings with another pilot, and she said she flew about 70 miles from Columbus to Ashland in northern Ohio to help.

"I heard the guy say that he didn't want to hurt anyone, and he didn't have any intent to hit any buildings or anything," she said. "But he didn't want to live anymore and he was going to drive the airplane into the ground."

Flight instructor Doug Donaldson also attempted to persuade the man to return to the airport from a radio on the ground.

The man, who deputies did not identify, was arrested without incident after he shut off the engine, and he was in county jail Tuesday night, Richert said. Ashland County prosecutors are reviewing whether to file charges.

Hoadley said one of her friends committed suicide in a plane about two years ago, and she was thinking about that person while trying to calm the man.

"The last thing I wanted was to lose this guy. I was not going to let him go," she said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)