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Charity-Loving Flier Jailed for Three Months

July 3, 1986

MANCHESTER, England (AP) _ A 59-year-old Englishman who bought an aircraft with Monopoly money and flew it to France on what he described as a publicity stunt for charity was jailed Thursday for three months.

Robert Grant, whose elaborately planned escapade in May triggered a minor air terrorist alert over the English Channel, apologized to Manchester magistrates. He said he was trying to raise money for the elderly.

Grant stole a flashy car so he would appear to be a genuine customer when buying the Cessna 172 four-seater, handed the plane’s owner a money belt filled with Monopoly bank notes and took off from an airfield near Manchester, the court was told. The seller did not realize he was hoodwinked until Grant took off.

The plane was chased by a Royal Air Force helicopter before it landed in Creil military airfield north of Paris, escorted by a French air force jet. Grant was arrested and returned to England.

Grant said he was desperate to do his part for a charity event in which participants were required to cover the maximum distance possible by their own resources. He said he intended to fly the aircraft back to Manchester and see that it was returned to its owner.

Grant was sentenced Thursday to six months imprisonment for taking the plane, three of them suspended, and a concurrent three months for stealing the car, two of them suspended.

The court also ordered him to pay the equivalent of $1,325 to cover the cost of chasing the plane and bringing him back to England.

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