Déjà vu? King Skyhawk Also Mis-ID'd in January 2009
August 30, 2010 — The airplane that prompted Santa Barbara, California, Police to detain John and Martha King of the King Schools on Saturday, August 28, was also misidentified as stolen in January 2009, prompting local police in Wichita, Kansas, to detain its pilot before things were straightened out, according to EAA contributor Max Trescott.
The Kings were detained at gunpoint Saturday by police and handcuffed when the airplane in which they had arrived at Santa Barbara Airport, a Cessna Skyhawk (172S) leased from Cessna Aircraft, was identified as a stolen airplane because it had the same registration number (N-50545) as a C-150 reported stolen in eight years ago from McKinney, Texas. Even though the 150’s registration was canceled in 2005 and reissued to the 172 in 2009, Santa Barbara police were alerted by a federal agency affiliated with the DEA, the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), that a stolen aircraft was scheduled to arrive in Santa Barbara. The Kings had filed an IFR flight plan from San Diego to Santa Barbara.
Trescott reported on his blog Monday that this is the second time that airplane and its occupant was detained by local authorities who thought it was the stolen 150. “In January 2009, Jim Pitman, a friend of mine who was a Cessna employee at the time, posted an account on Facebook of his run in with police,” Trescott wrote. “While he was handcuffed, he was detained in a far less threatening manner than the Kings were. Here’s information from his posting: ‘So I got to spend some time handcuffed in the back of a police car on the ramp in Wichita today.’”