Originally created 02/20/03

Owner of craft offers reward



More than eight months after an airplane was reported stolen from Augusta's Daniel Field airport, the plane's owner said Wednesday he'll offer an incentive for the recovery of his Cessna 172.

"I'm offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the plane and the conviction of those responsible," Terry Florie said. "I see that as being the only realistic method of bringing anybody to justice."

Mr. Florie said he doesn't believe he'll ever see his four-seater plane again, adding that it was probably stolen for parts. But Lt. Tony Walden, a property crimes investigator for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, said his office and the FBI are still investigating the case.

"We certainly would like to find it; if nothing else, for everybody's peace of mind," Lt. Walden said. "We've pretty much exhausted every lead we have. We've done ground searches and air searches."

The FBI was called in because of a concern of terrorism involving small airplanes.

"I think one of their theories was, after it became difficult for terrorists to hijack large planes, that their next move would be to take small planes," Mr. Florie said.

No motives have been ruled out, Lt. Walden said.

The plane is believed to have been taken between midnight and 2 a.m. June 8 from a well-lit area. During that time, a suspicious plane was reported leaving the airport and heading across the Savannah River.

There was no log of that plane's flight path, and the plane was lost on Augusta Regional Airport's radar screen and never accounted for, Lt. Walden said.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, police have increased surveillance at Daniel Field, and airport officials continue to ask pilots to be aware of and report any suspicious activity.

"We are asking people to be more vigilant," said Buster Boshears, the airport director for Daniel Field.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.



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