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EASTERN PA. Teens headed to court over risky aerial prank



Published: Wed, January 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The pair egged their high school from a low-flying plane, authorities say.

HARRISBURG (AP) -- A low-flying airplane so startled residents of Gettysburg in the pre-dawn hours last June that the top two floors of a six-story hotel were evacuated and borough police tried to signal the plane using flashlights.

Two teenagers face a court hearing this week on charges they flew a two-seat Piper Cub airplane belonging to one of the boys' father so they could drop eggs on their high school. Adams County prosecutor Brian Sinnett called the apparent prank "one of the most bizarre cases that I've been involved in."

"You hate to think what might have happened -- even unintentionally," Sinnett said.

The boys were arrested Friday on charges of causing or risking a catastrophe, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and conspiracy. Sinnett said one is 15 years old, and the other 15 or 16. Their names were not released.

They also were charged with taking a Christmas wreath from Gettysburg High School last month. The investigation into the stolen wreath, Sinnett said, helped authorities link the boys to the June 15 aerial egging. A juvenile court hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

Police and aviation officials were mystified when the single-engine plane circled Gettysburg's tiny downtown in foggy conditions at low altitude, then disappeared. Poor visibility and darkness prevented them from reading the tail number.

About two dozen people were evacuated from the top floors of the Gettysburg Hotel as a precaution.

Fire trucks and police cars were stationed at the local airport, but Sinnett said the plane apparently landed at a private airstrip belonging to the father of the boy who was at the controls. He does not have a pilot's license, Sinnett said.

Sinnett said the boys dropped at least one bucket of eggs on the roof of the high school, hours before the start of the final day of class before summer vacation.

"To the best of my knowledge, it wasn't even reported at the time," Sinnett said. "I don't know that [school officials] necessarily saw it at first."

Sinnett said the boys confided in others about the incident.

They appeared without lawyers at a detention hearing on Monday, Sinnett said. Because they are juveniles, Sinnett was unwilling to identify them.




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