A Florida man purloined a plane in Palo Alto on Thursday and put it down on a beach in Half Moon Bay, according to flummoxed San Mateo County authorities.
The 50-year-old Miami native and suspect, Luiz Gustavo Aires, is accused of committing the grand theft aero around 5 p.m., taking to the skies briefly before touching down just 25 miles away, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, this is for sure a first,” said Javier Acosta, a spokesman for the office.
Deputies got a call about a beached plane, kicking off the hunt for the lost aircraft. Witnesses told the deputies that someone landed the plane, got out and walked away.
After a “thorough search,” the deputies located the small red-and-white fixed-wing single-engine aircraft on Poplar Beach in Half Moon Bay. The Federal Aviation Administration lists the plane as owned by a San Mateo-based limited liability company.
Acosta said that deputies learned the plane was stolen from Palo Alto Airport and later located a man who matched the description of the person who abandoned the aircraft.
Aires was booked on suspicion of theft of an airplane and misappropriation of lost property, Acosta said.