A pair of teenagers had a wild Thanksgiving after stealing and driving a tractor to a local airstrip, where they nabbed an airplane, took it for a joyride, and then landed safely back at the small airport in Vernal, Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the boys were spotted flying in the air along a highway before they aborted their flight and landed about 15 miles away.
The two boys, ages 14 and 15, had been staying at the Split Mountain Youth Detention Center in Vernal when they left to stay with friends in nearby Jensen. On Thanksgiving, the pair took a tractor and drove it to a private airstrip. There, they stole a fixed-wing single-engine Cessna and took to the skies, flying along US 40 for 15 miles toward the Colorado state line.
Witnesses on the ground spotted the plane and alerted authorities.
Apparently, the pair planned to head to the Wasatch Front, where the major cities of Salt Lake, Ogden, and Provo are located in Utah.
Uintah County police released a statement saying that the two boys were arrested and were being held after stealing and flying the plane to the Vernal Regional Airport, about 170 miles south east of Salt Lake City. They also state that the incident is still under investigation and ongoing.
“On Nov. 22, 2018, two teenage boys were arrested near the Vernal Regional Airport after landing a small plane they had stolen from a private airstrip in Jensen, Uintah County,” the Unitah County Sherrif’s Office wrote on Facebook. “At this time, investigators believe the boys, ages 14 and 15, left a group home on the Wasatch Front earlier this week and made their way to eastern Utah, where they have been staying with friends in the Jensen area.”
“This morning the teens gained access to a tractor and drove it to the air strip in Jensen, where they stole a fixed-wing, single engine light sport aircraft. The plane was witnessed flying very low along US-40 near Gusher, Uintah County, about 32 miles west of Jensen,” the press release continued. “Based on information obtained by investigators, the teens mentioned flying back towards the Wasatch Front, but decided not to and returned to Vernal where they landed at the airport.”
While it isn’t clear what the punishment is for stealing and landing a plane, social media users are split on whether the boys are heroes or villains for their heist.
Living in a group home.????yet can fly and safely land a stolen plane @ 15/16 years old? Those young men need to attend an aviation school, trained as part of their sentence, made to work in there. Punish! Yes! But would one wish them to become pilots for illegal drug, and the like— Dora Brown (@DoraBro48052347) November 23, 2018
“Um wow at 14 and 15 I dont think I could have even gotten a plane off the runway let alone land one also. Bit ya those 2 need their butts spanked….,” said one user.
Um wow at 14 and 15 I dont think I could have even gotten a plane off the runway let alone land one also. Bit ya those 2 need their butts spanked.... https://t.co/3SLbCQyhrm— Chrystal Butterfield (@CrystalButtrfld) November 23, 2018
Some commenters called the boys “heroes” and “legends.” Others concluded that the boys need flying lessons to better hone their skills.
Uintah County Sheriff's officials said 2 teens were arrested today after they stole a plane in Jensen and landed it at Vernal airport: https://t.co/QeFZRSvSD7— KSL (@KSLcom) November 22, 2018
The boys are being held at Split Mountain Youth Detention Center in Vernal.