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Daredevil Homeless Man Calvin Cox Steals Airplane, Crashes It, Gets Free Room in Jail

(AP/Frederick Police Department)
(AP/Frederick News-Post/Sam Yu)
FREDERICK, Md. (CBS/AP) Calvin Cox, a 51-year-old homeless man trying to take off, ended up grounded, and behind bars instead, when he crashed a stolen single-engine airplane on a municipal airport runway, according to police in Frederick, Md.

Photo: Calvin Cox seen in a police mugshot, Dec. 28, 2009.

Cox ran off a runway at the Frederick airport in a stolen Piper Super Cub and upended in the grass at about 2:15 a.m. Monday, police said. A canine team tracked the wannabe fly-boy into nearby woods, said Police Lt. Clark A. Pennington.

Cox wasn't hurt, and remained in custody after bail was set at $10,000 on felony charges including theft, burglary and trespassing.

Pennington said Cox had lived in a tent in the woods by the airport and somehow become familiar enough with the airport and airplanes that he was able to get inside a hangar and start the aircraft.

He said Cox drove the plane part way up a 3,600-foot runway, then turned the aircraft around and drove it back down the runway and off the pavement.

Photo: Police say Calvin Cox tried to leave town in this stolen plane.

The two-seat Piper, owned by the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association, sustained damage to its engine and propeller, club President Michael H. Higgins said.

Higgins said club members don't know Cox.
Member Lance Nuckolls said the hangar had been locked and that starting the Piper would have required activating several switches and a starter button in the correct sequence.

"You don't just stumble on it and figure it out," he said. "You have to be trained to do that."

Cox is not listed in FAA airmen certification records as a licensed pilot or mechanic. He could have learned about airplanes, though, by working for a certified mechanic, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters.

FBI spokesman Richard J. Wolf said his agency was advised of the incident but wasn't actively involved in the investigation.