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From the Archives: Aircraft thief leaves note on hangar door

From the Archives: Aircraft thief leaves note on hangar door
Feb. 10, 1936: A stolen two-seater Taylor Cub aircraft is found crashed in Mint Canyon near modern-day Agua Dulce. (Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

On a clear, cool Sunday morning in February 1936, flight instructor Dwight F. Petersen stopped by his hangar at Dycer Airport. The door was open. His two-seater Taylor Cub aircraft was gone, and there was a note on the door.

A Feb. 10, 1936, Los Angeles Times story reported:

… The note reads:

“Warning–This plane has been temporarily borrowed and will be returned in good condition in ten days. Any word to police or newspapers will cause me and my party to destroy the ship. By the time you receive this note, the plane will be in the San Francisco area.

“If you want any further discussion put a question in the morning paper under boats and airplanes. Leave the rest to me.

“Remember no more than ten days. Then you can turn it over to police. And if the trip turns out in my favor, you will be paid for your inconvenience.”…

Petersen immediately took the note to the 77th Street police station. The police suspected smugglers and alerted authorities throughout the West.

That evening, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported the plane crashed in Mint Canyon, near present-day Agua Dulce.

The above image appeared in Feb. 11, 1936, Los Angeles Times. The accompanying short story reported:

“The plane, propeller broken and fuselage bent, was found about 500 feet above a makeshift landing field, leveled off during the past few weeks by the thief.

“Police have advanced the theory the field was intended as a base of operations for smuggling contraband goods across the border.”

Dycer Airport was at 94th Street and Western Avenue, east of Inglewood.

According to the Abandoned & Little-Remembered Airports website, the airport closed between 1938 and 1941. Following World War II, homes were built on the site.

I could not find any more information on the incident. The original negative has light streaks in the upper right portion of the image.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here

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