Some info on the latest act of airplane piracy to hit Western Washington. There have now been four small aircraft stolen and believed connected to Colton Harris-Moore. To put that number into perspective, in an average year, there are a total of six general aviation planes stolen in North America -- and most of those are near the southern border, taken and used by drug dealers.
This plane was a Cirrus SR22, the same popular model as one stolen last summer from San Juan Island. That plane was also hard-landed on Orcas Island.
Both times, the planes were taken at night and landed in the dark (Orcas does have runway lights that stay on all night). Both planes hit the runway, but then quickly ran off onto the grass.
This most recent plane was heisted from a locked hangar, as were the first and third planes (those were both Cessna 182s). Hangared planes give the thief time to check out the aircraft, see if it has enough fuel, check for the keys, etc.
The Cirrus is faster than the 182 and reportedly somewhat trickier to fly. That initially led some experts to doubt that someone like Colt, who had no formal training, could have flown one. Now, with a second Cirrus taken, and hints (in the form of tauntingly drawn "barefoots") that Colt has suddenly landed back on Orcas, those experts are having to admit that the connection looks stronger. Officially, though, Colt hasn't been tied to that first Cirrus theft. He is officially a suspect in this latest one.
The Cirrus is known for its airframe parachute, which in case of engine failure, deploys and slows the plane's fall to a survivable speed. It's not a magic carpet, though. This plane was stolen from Anacortes then flown across the cold waters of Puget Sound to Orcas. If a plane went into the drink out here and the pilot survived the hit, he'd only last about a half hour in the 46-degree water before losing conciousness.