Feds shut down Barefoot Bandit’s flight school efforts
Update on Barefoot Bandit:
Colton Harris-Moore got a little more than $1,500 toward his $125,000 goal to fund flight school before the feds shut his efforts down.
The Seattle Times reports that Harris-Moore’s probation officer stepped in and asked that he shut down a GoFundMe page meant to raise funds for flight school. Harris-Moore, aka the Barefoot Bandit, must first pay restitution to his victims before any such sky-high goals can be pursued.
Connie Smith, Chief U.S. Probation and Pretrial Officer for Western Washington, told the Seattle Times:
He is not allowed to have a GoFundMe account to fund his wish to go to flying school when the victims aren’t whole. The money in that GoFundMe account will need to go to victims.
Harris-Moore tweeted that it was a “very sad day” for him and that his “dream has been crushed” after hearing the news.
I feel like my dream has been crushed. What a terrible feeling.
— Colton Harris Moore (@realColtonX) December 20, 2016
Harris-Moore still owes his victims around $129,000. He sold rights to his story to 20th Century Fox so the company could make a movie about his exploits. That money has already gone to pay some of his restitution.
But in a series of 16 tweets Tuesday, Harris-Moore conveyed his perspective of the issue — that his flight school funding goals are not entirely grounded, rather, they have only been put on hold while his probation officer reviews the matter. He awaits approval, which he says could take a couple weeks.
Harris-Moore further said that he spoke with an aviation attorney who advised him there is nothing the law can do to prevent him from getting his flight license, even with his criminal record. He said he filed a motion in federal court to present his case. Part of the argument that he told the Times, and tweeted about, is that if he was able to obtain his flight license he could get a job, and in turn, more quickly pay any remaining restitution.
Harris-Moore has previously indicated he is a Donald Trump supporter. He told the Times that he may turn to Trump for help.
I have the email address of Kellyanne Conway (Trump’s campaign manager). If it comes to this I’ll get this taken care of from the top down.
The man known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” who became nationally recognized for his two-year crime spree and was finally arrested after crash-landing a stolen plane in the Bahamas, is asking for donations to pay for flight training.
Colton Harris-Moore, 25 and living in Seattle, started a GoFundMe page to collect donations. He is asking for $125,500.
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Luke Lysen, the president of the Seattle-based Flight Academy, told the “Tom and Curley Show” Tuesday that he got word from Harris last week.
“We got an email into our general inquiry box last Thursday asking some questions about learning to fly and about 20 minutes later the phone rang and it was Colton,” he said.
Though Harris-Moore says he has always tried to keep a low-profile, “I have decided to go against my instinct to not be public, and instead open this project and my goal to the world,” Harris-Moore wrote on the page. “My goal is, of course, to fly!
“I am totally obsessed with airplanes. I call them ‘flying machines.’ There is just something about them — the poise of the wings, the sound of the engine, and the ability to take to the sky at any moment and have absolute freedom. It’s truly unlike any other experience.”
The former fugitive, who gives a brief background into his crime spree, including the theft of a plane owned by Bob Rivers, says he is ready to fly legally. He also breaks down the training he would like to undergo, which includes seven items ranging from $5,600 to $32,995.
Lysen is listed as Colton-Moore’s flight instructor on the page.
“I certainly don’t encourage any of the behavior he engaged in but he’s a free citizen and he’s done his time in jail and I’m happy to teach him how to fly as long as we do it legally,” Lysen said.
Colton-Moore says he has never been trained to fly and that, after earning his license, he will apply to at Airlift Northwest, as a helicopter medevac pilot.
Lysen was asked if he was impressed by Harris-Moore’s previous exploits in the air or if he fears any potential bad habits that he may have learned.
“I guess I would caution the word impressed,” Lysen responded. “I certainly think it’s quite remarkable that somebody could learn to fly and live to tell the tale and do it multiple times without any formal training. Bad habits, that’s certainly something to look out for, though. One of the primary laws of learning is the law of primacy and says what you learn first is best remembered. So not having flown with him I’m not exactly sure what habits he has, but that would be an area of concern for sure.”
Harris-Moore, originally from Camano Island, spent six years in prison. During his sentence, he started a now defunct blog and, despite his distaste for the media, reached out to KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don as he tried to raise money for his dying mother.
As of noon on Tuesday, Harris-Moore had raised $1,500.
When he asked if he thought Harris-Moore would reach the funds, Lysen responded: “I don’t know. That’s up to the public. There’s a lot of charities out there so I think it’s a big road for him.”