Man Flew Stolen Plane From North Las Vegas to California

Posted on: January 3, 2024, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: January 3, 2024, 12:12h.

A man who reportedly stole a small airplane from the airport in North Las Vegas over the weekend and flew it to California is now facing several charges.

Beer found in the cockpit of a stolen plane
Beer containers found in the cockpit of a stolen plane, pictured above. The plane was flown from North Las Vegas to California. (Image: KVVU)

Damian Zukaitis, 40, allegedly broke into the cockpit of the Kitfox single-engine aircraft at about 2 p.m. Saturday at the North Las Vegas Airport.

He started the engine, and the plane took off with Zukaitis at the controls. It’s unclear if he requested clearance from the airport tower to depart.

Zukaitis then flew approximately 150 miles before landing near Barstow-Daggett Airport in California’s San Bernardino County.

The plane came to rest on a road near Barstow, Calif. He was approached by deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office.

Initially, deputies didn’t know the plane had been stolen. Zukaitis became anxious and fled from authorities. He was able to reach a close-by desert. Deputies eventually caught up with him and he was apprehended.

Possession of Stolen Airplane

Zukaitis was booked and charged with possession of a stolen airplane and transporting stolen property across state lines. More charges are likely from Nevada authorities. Nevada prosecutors will try to extradite him from California to stand trial.

The unnamed owner of the plane was contacted by the US Air Force to inquire how it got to Barstow.

The owner then traveled to Barstow. He found some suspected marijuana and beer cans/bottles in the cockpit, according to The Messenger, an online news site based in Florida.

A binder with detailed instructions for how to land at California’s Corona Municipal Airport was also found in the cockpit. Corona’s airport is about 100 miles south of Barstow-Daggett Airport.

The owner was unable to fly the plane back to North Las Vegas because the propeller and engine were damaged, according to Las Vegas TV station KVVU.

Over the weekend, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) joined the investigation with local authorities in California and Nevada.

Burglarized Other Planes

As North Las Vegas police investigated the airport burglary, they came to realize Zukaitis allegedly attempted to break into other planes last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. One of the three planes was damaged.

It’s unclear as of early this week why he stole the plane — if it was a joyride or it was taken for a specific purpose.

Zukaitis didn’t suffer any noteworthy injuries during the theft, flight, or landing.

North Las Vegas Airport is located three miles northwest of downtown Las Vegas. It’s run by the Clark County Department of Aviation. It’s significantly smaller than Harry Reid International Airport.

Barstow-Daggett Airport is a county complex some 14 miles east of Barstow.