During the evening of Thursday, July 2, 1959, three teenagers decided to go for the ultimate joy ride. They stole an Aercoupe airplane owned by the George H. Bailey Co. from the Akron Municipal Airport and took to the skies. While I am not an aviation expert, this appears to be a two-person aircraft, so my guess is that two of them were crammed into the rear seat.
The three were later identified as 16-year-old Carl Fullerton, who piloted the plane, 17-year-old Paul V. Fabry, and 15-year-old Sandra Lee Lawson, who had been reported missing by her parents since June 13.
Fullerton wasn’t exactly a novice at flying a plane. His father Ed was a professional pilot and had given his son flying lessons, but the youth had never flown without an instructor along before.
After takeoff, it is believed that the trio flew aimlessly over central Ohio until they began to run low on fuel. They were in desperate need of a place to land and found a flat field to safely put down the plane in West Lafayette, about 80 miles (130 km) south of Akron.
Their problem now was how to get home. They opted to hitchhike, which didn’t work out too well for them. They were spotted by a deputy sheriff and picked up. Juvenile authorities were contacted, who, in turn, told the parents that they could go get their kids. Some of Ed Fullerton’s aviation buddies flew to get the teenagers and later brought them back to the Akron airport.
They landed around 6 PM Friday and the police were contacted. A patrol car was sent to pick up the three kids, but just before it got there, the two boys said that they “want to get a drink of water.” They didn’t return, leaving poor Sandra behind to face the consequences. She was taken to the local juvenile detention home.
It turns out that the boys had walked to a farm owned by Paul Fabry’s aunt and spent the night sleeping in a haystack there. Early Saturday morning, the aunt took them in and fed them. Around noon, another aunt read about the airplane theft in the newspaper, called the farm, and then drove to pick up the boys.
From there, they were driven home, then taken to the Akron police station, and ultimately ended up in the same juvenile detention home as their friend Sandra.
Mrs. Fabry told the press that the boys were, “scared and mighty sorry. They knew they made a mistake.”