News


Palo Alto pilot was arrested prior to disappearance

 

A flight instructor who allegedly stole a plane from the Palo Alto Municipal Airport and vanished over the Pacific Ocean was arrested two weeks prior to his disappearance, according to court records in Florida's Orange County Superior Court.

William James McAdams, 24, allegedly took a 2011 G1000 Skyhawk 1TG, tail number N191TG, from his employer, Advantage Aviation, without permission on May 8 at 1 a.m. He flew off for an unknown destination and with an unknown motive, according to Palo Alto police.

McAdams was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff in Florida on April 24 for felony second-degree aggravated battery with a weapon (dating violence) and misdemeanor battery (dating violence), according to court records. An additional felony, false imprisonment, was added early this week.

According to an arrest affidavit, the weapon was allegedly a knife. He was released on $16,000 bond on April 27.

According to the arrest affidavit, McAdams and a woman checked into the B Resort and Spa in Disney World in Orlando on the night of April 23. The woman told police that McAdams had recently lost his job and he was planning to move to Florida at the end of April. They got into an argument the next morning at 5:50 a.m. and he allegedly battered her when she attempted to leave. Police arrived after guests and a security guard reported hearing a woman scream for help.

McAdams was arrested after the sheriff's deputies investigated the incident and was taken into custody at 7:22 a.m.

He is to be formally arraigned on the charges on June 2 and planned to enter a written plea of not guilty, according to court records.

McAdams lived mainly in Tampa, Florida, for many years before moving back to Wisconsin with his family, where he completed high school. He attended flight school in Florida and previously worked as a flight instructor at Epic Flight Academy in New Smyrna Beach, according to his company website.

He began working as a flight and instrument-training instructor at Advantage Aviation in Palo Alto in 2012. (Advantage directed inquiries for comment to Palo Alto police.) He also ran his own business, Fly High Bay Area, an aviation supplies and flight training company, out of the airport.

McAdams' mother, Stephanie McAdams, said her son was the most loving son a mother could have, and she asked for the media to not blow the allegations about her son out of proportion.

She described the family as private, regular, Midwestern and working-class.

"My son is the best, most awesome son in the world. He's the guy who calls and asks, 'Mom, how are you doing?'" she said. "I'm just praying. I don't know what happened. I'm just begging the media not to print a bunch of garbage. It isn't OK for my son to be bashed. He's obviously having a hard time with stuff."

The Palo Alto Police Department, which is handling the case, said the plane's electronic signal was picked up off the California coast near the Mexican border. Police have sent out alerts to local, state and federal agencies, the U.S. and Mexican Coast Guards and to all west coast airports to be on the lookout for the plane. Currently, there is no active over-water search, Palo Alto police spokesman Sgt. Brian Philip said.

The last radar hit on the plane showed it was flying southwest over the water, about 70 miles offshore, around 2:45 a.m., according to Allen Kenitzer, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

Update: A U. S. Coast Guard spokesman said the plane sent out an emergency signal at 2:45 a.m.

Philip said Palo Alto police could not comment on the arrest in Florida and McAdams' attorney did not return a request for comment.

Anyone with information about McAdams or the plane is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413.

Comments

26 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2015 at 5:21 pm

"Never was the kind to do as I was told
Gonna ride like the wind before I get old

It is the night
My body's weak
I'm on the run
No time to sleep
I've got to ride
Ride like the wind
To be free again

And I've got such a long way to go
To make it to the border of Mexico
So I'll ride like the wind
Ride like the wind"


6 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2015 at 5:38 pm

> Advantage directed inquiries for comment to Palo Alto police.

Why should the Palo Alto police be answering questions about this man, his past, or anything to do with his association/employment by Advantage Aviation? The police should not have been willing to shill for these people. Advantage hired this guy--so they should be explaining his behavior and why he was able to so easily steal a plane from their company.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 18, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A crime was apparently committed and investigating crimes is the responsibility of the police - and, in this case, also the FBI since an aircraft was involved and it apparently was taken across state lines.


21 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 18, 2015 at 6:01 pm

I'd be more worried about the guys who stole the SUV last week and backed it through the plate glass at Bloomingdales.


Like this comment
Posted by ERRANDRUNNER
a resident of Greater Miranda
on May 19, 2015 at 10:19 am

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 19, 2015 at 10:58 am

@Joe "Advantage hired this guy--so they should be explaining <...> why he was able to so easily steal a plane from their company. "

He was an Instructor for Advantage. He had keys to the building and hence keys to all the aircraft. Pretty much like if you work for Hertz you can drive away with any car you want. At least the first time...


2 people like this
Posted by Worried?
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2015 at 11:06 am

@musical - I'll bet if it was your plane that was stolen you'd be plenty worried.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 19, 2015 at 12:36 pm

The SJM indicated that the plane was leased to the flying school for flying lessons. I am sure that the owner of the plane is very worried - as is the flying school who is leasing the plane.
Given the weather patterns a lot could happen for a relatively small plane over the water. Hope he is alive and well.


15 people like this
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2015 at 12:38 pm

This whole story is just sad. However, I don't think I know enough of it to be able to make judgements. To me, the man made a mistake, was possibly misunderstood, gained an arrest record and lost someone dear to him as a result. I can only imagine how I might have felt, and how few the options I saw going forward might be. Probably no help, only condemnation came his way. He made a choice that, to me, was another mistake. So sorry, so sad. How many lives are being touched by this?

I have some confidence that the aircraft was insured, and I find it difficult to feel sympathy for the stupid airplane, I am not inclined to feel sympathy for insurance companies, and I feel sympathy for the owner only because he now has to deal with insurance. For Mr. McAdams, for his friends and family, for all those grieving over this, I feel compassion.


14 people like this
Posted by Chance
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 19, 2015 at 2:40 pm

This is a story that will only get better and better.


6 people like this
Posted by winsome
a resident of Green Acres
on May 20, 2015 at 9:42 am

No one mentions the girl who was [allegedly] assaulted or the low bail, $16k he was on for a violent crime allegation.


3 people like this
Posted by Suspiria
a resident of Professorville
on May 20, 2015 at 4:20 pm

I suspect he felt his world was falling apart, and committed suicide by aircraft by ditching it in the ocean.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 21, 2015 at 5:38 pm

The specific plane has a fuel limit and range of miles on that fuel. That should help define the limit as to how far he got - and if he re-fueled at some location which should record if he refueled.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm

@res1, educated guesses on a more recent thread suggest 4+ hours at 134 mph, up to say 550 miles running the tanks dry. Perhaps more with a tailwind. Straight-line Mexico is about 450 miles, maybe 475 if you remain off the coast of California the whole way. If the tanks (28 gallons each wing) were topped off, which appears unlikely, range could be more like 800 statute miles at the most economical power settings.


2 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 21, 2015 at 8:01 pm

@Just Me - [Portion removed.]

As for the insurance, do you imagine that the owner of the plane gets off scot-free (except for the minor inconvenience of course, of dealing with the insurance company)? Ever heard of a deductible? I'm sure it's sizable for an airplane.


3 people like this
Posted by Take it Easy
a resident of Palo Verde School
on May 21, 2015 at 8:27 pm

@Wow:

>> "Wow! A guy beats his girlfriend, jumps bail (somebody must have paid (and lost) this money), steals a plane and the only person we should be feeling compassion for is the thief? "

WHOA! Slow down! A person is innocent until proven guilty - he has not been proven guilty. You have absolutely no idea what happened - you are speculating based on a brief story in a small-time paper. Note that the "reporter" thought his unrelated (and unresolved) legal issue was more relevant than the fact that there was an emergency signal sent out by the plane.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HAPPENED, OR WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES ARE AFFECTING THIS MAN'S ACTIONS. You are not qualified to be judge or jury in anything involving this case or this man.


Like this comment
Posted by Or...
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2015 at 8:28 pm

@Suspiria- or he's on a beach in Mexico drinking tequila and feelin' free...


1 person likes this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 21, 2015 at 8:45 pm

@Take it Easy-
1. He was arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment and the girl got a restraining order against him. That's a fact. He may not be proven guilty yet but I'm willing to bet that he wasn't an innocent- something bad happened to cause him to be arrested and to cause the girl to be fearful enough to need the restraining order.

2. He jumped bail. That's a fact. That action is illegal.

3. He stole a plane. That's a fact. Not only is that action illegal, it was morally wrong- the plane belonged to someone else. That person has been harmed.

We generally categorize all these behaviors as criminal. Every criminal has his sad story to tell. Just sayin...


3 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm

@Take it Easy- Also, are you suggesting that there are some circumstances that would justify stealing a plane from somebody?


Like this comment
Posted by Take it Easy
a resident of Palo Verde School
on May 21, 2015 at 10:31 pm

@Wow: How about we post to one thread only.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Sue Dremann, Staff Writer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Police did not say during an interview at the time this story was written that an emergency signal was detected. That information was supplied by the Coast Guard for a subsequent story.


2 people like this
Posted by Jon R
a resident of Mountain View
on May 23, 2015 at 11:29 pm

Why are you saying he "jumped bail"? He is scheduled to be arraigned on June 2. By my clock, that is still almost 2 weeks away. Unless his bail terms required him to stay in Florida (doubtful), he hasn't jumped bail yet as I don't know of any bail requirement to not fly an airplane or to remain in contact with authorities, etc. He may have committed another crime by stealing an airplane, and it is possible that would be considered a violation of his bail but I doubt that too. Its just another crime. So while I agree he is probably not exactly in great terms with the legal authorities, I think you are "jumping the gun" to say that he has "jumped bail". If he fails to show up on June 2 for his arraignment, THEN you can say that. But not now.


3 people like this
Posted by Jon R
a resident of Mountain View
on May 23, 2015 at 11:33 pm

@Wow -

And you say that you think he must not be innocent but like it or not, that is our system. You can have a restraining order taken out against you even if you are COMPLETELY innocent (it happens all the time). Again, I am not going to judge here since my knowledge of the facts is limited to what has been reported in the press (as is, I believe yours) so I would back off from convicting someone of a crime before the system has done its job. That is the way our system works (regardless of whether you think it should be otherwise).


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 27, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Just need to let everyone know that William McAdams was originally from Wisconsin, not Florida.


1 person likes this
Posted by Shirley
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 27, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Surely the AWOL pilot is deceased by now. We will never know what really happened any more than we know what really happened to that Malaysian Air Flight that disappeared last year.


Like this comment
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 27, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Why do we assume he is deceased? I assume he is relaxing somewhere else in the world. Maybe he landed in Mexico, sold the plane to drug runners and left for an unknown destination.

Anyway, that's what I would hope for if I were among his friends and relatives. Actually, I hope he is OK, and I don't know him.


Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto

on May 27, 2015 at 6:18 pm

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Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 27, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Why would anyone assume he is deceased - his court date is not until June 2.
He is a good pilot - assume he has some plan. No - I do not know him.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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