Man steals plane, crashes
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers are investigating the
crash of a Beechcraft Bonanza single-engine aircraft just east of Athens
The aircraft is believed to have been stolen from the Athens airport.
According to reports, no one was seriously injured in the crash, which
left the plane hanging in a stand of trees on private property off
County Road 4506.
This A36 Bonanza
Beechcraft in flight is similar to the one stolen from the Athens
Municipal Airport Wednesday morning.
Authorities took a suspect into custody just hours later, reportedly
when he returned to the airport to get his maroon pickup truck after the
Brownsville resident Joshua P. Calhoun, 28, was taken to East Texas
Medical Center Athens and treated for minor injuries before being booked
into jail on a charge of theft of property over $200,000.
Carroll Dyson, owner of Dyson Aviation, called the plane’s owner when
Dyson began to suspect the plane was being stolen from the Athens
Municipal Airport off Loop 7 around 9:15 a.m.
A couple of signs tipped Dyson off to the possible theft.
While eating some breakfast in front of a window facing the airport
ramp, where planes are parked and tied down, he saw the suspect unlock
the plane’s door and go through a preflight check. That was around 7:30
“He looked a lot like the owner – the same build and height,” Dyson
However, when the man tried to start the engine, it didn’t catch after
three tries. The man then left, but later returned and succeeded in
getting the engine started.
Dyson had been doing some paperwork when he heard the plane’s engine
“I can’t not watch a plane take off,” Dyson told The Monitor. So, he
stepped out his office door.
The pilot didn’t go to the far end of the runway to take off, but began
his run at the T, which was near the ramp, Dyson reported.
Also, the pilot’s truck was parked on the ramp, instead of in the
parking lot. That was unusual, he said.
Then, Dyson noticed the aircraft’s door was still open as it was taking
off. That’s when Dyson decided to call the owner.
“Did you loan anyone your plane?” he asked. “No,” was the answer, and
the keys were in the owner’s sight, Dyson said.
“Well, you better call the police, then, because someone has just taken
off with your plane,” Dyson told the owner.
However, the suspect didn’t get far.
The plane came back down about three miles away from the airport,
crash-landing in the stand of trees, located some distance behind Athens
Tractor Supply on U.S. Highway 175.
A search for the craft by air was underway, employing the Air One
medical helicopter from East Texas Medical Center and a Dyson Aviation
craft. The crash site was located about 10:30 a.m.
Law enforcement officers came out to the airport to question Dyson about
what he saw, and while they were there, Dyson noticed someone getting
into the truck on the ramp and driving away.
After a short chase, officers returned to the airport with the suspect
Dyson made a positive identification of the man as the same one who
conducted the preflight check earlier and took off with the plane.
Dyson, who’s been at the airport since it was built, recalled only one
other time when a plane was stolen, back in the early ’70s.
The crash site was secured by state troopers. The Federal Aviation
Administration is investigating the case.
Once contacted, the crash site property owner refused access to the
property to all but law enforcement personnel.
Mabank orchestrates tornado
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–The Mabank emergency response team is planning a mock disaster
drill for Saturday, March 28, in the vicinity of Northpark, in north
Code Enforcement officer and volunteer fireman Mat Ewaskiw told Mabank
City Council members Tuesday letters had been posted to residents of
Northpark, informing them of the event and seeking volunteer “victims”
from the neighborhood.
Between 10 and 15 agencies are expected to participate, including the
American Red Cross, who will open the emergency shelter in Mabank, as
they would in a real disaster.
The Humane Society is also participating, providing emergency kennels
and caring for animals caught in the “disaster.”
The drill will simulate a tornado touching down in the Northpark area
and is expected to last from 8:30 a.m. to noon, he said.
In other business, council members:
• approved an ordinance relating to the collection of limbs/brush in the
city. The new rule states that if a property owner hires someone to cut
back brush and limbs that they are also responsible for hauling away the
debris. This was needed due to the volume of brush and limbs being put
out for city collection.
Property owners doing their own brush and limb trimming may still put
their debris out for city pickup, provided there is no more than 500
cubic feet per week per residence. The rule does not apply during
emergency situations where the public health, safety or welfare could be
Violation of the new rule counts as a Class C misdemeanor and punishable
with a fine up to $500, each day that violation continues.
• adopted a resolution asking the Texas Department of Transportation to
transfer authority to the city to manage utility and road-associated
right-of-way maintenance, driveway access control and drainage
management of a part of Old Farm-to-Market 90.
This is desirable since it affects the site of a hotel development.
• determined a structure located adjacent to 205 S. Wade Street is
unsafe and ordered its demolition.
• awarded a bid for the purchase of a used trackhoe for $71,120 from
Rental Equipment Contractor Supply, out of Prosper.
• authorized the mayor to proceed with the sale of water meters.
Intersection to re-open
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–Partly due to heightened attention, the main intersection
in Seven Points is set to open Monday, March 16, instead of April 1.
Plans for a ribbon cutting are being made.
RK Hall spokesman Greg Main told local business owners that the Texas
Department of Transportation has lifted its requirement to apply the
seal coat before opening the intersection.
“I think your meeting (Feb. 23) sped up the process,” he said.
Plans to apply the seal coat will be done one lane at a time and
shouldn’t impact traffic flow all that much, since the other three lanes
will be open, he explained.
“Y’all have been real patient and we appreciate it,” Mains said.
Testing of the new traffic lights at state highways 334 and 274 will be
ongoing through the first two weeks, including weekends, he added.
Mains addressed the monthly 8 a.m. chamber branch breakfast meeting
Wednesday at the Dairy Queen in Seven Points.