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Would-be plane thief ordered to take mental exam

  • ARJONA MOLINA

  • ARJONA MOLINA

A 24-year-old Pahoa man accused of trying to steal an airplane at Hilo International Airport told police he always wanted to be a pilot and needs to tell everyone he has the cure for cancer, according to court documents.

Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach on Wednesday ordered a mental exam for Gabriel Arjona Molina. She ordered him to appear at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 and maintained his bail at $37,000 on charges of attempted first-degree theft, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, first-degree criminal property damage and second-degree trespassing. Arjona Molina is in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center and appeared for his court hearing via Zoom.

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Arjona Molina, whom police say crashed through an airport fence in a tan 2004 Toyota sedan and tried unsuccessfully to start a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft, managed to make his way into the cockpit of a Beechcraft King Air C90A air ambulance and start the propellers of both engines, documents state.

A witness stated the propellers turned for two to three minutes before shutting down, and that Arjona Molina, shirtless and wearing only a pair of blue surf shorts, exited the aircraft, according to documents.

Arjona Molina, described by police as a Venezuelan national who has been on Hawaii Island for about two months, reportedly waived his right to remain silent and told police he always wanted to be a pilot and grew up flying planes with his father, a Venezuelan pilot, documents state.

He also allegedly told police he needs to tell everyone he has the cure for cancer.

Arjona Molina allegedly told officers he was in a “flow state of mind,” was fearless and selfless, and would’ve taken the plane if the “flow” told him.

He said all he needed to do was turn on the fuel switch but decided, after seeing the empty co-pilot seat, not to take the plane because it was not meant to be at that time, documents state. He got out of the plane and was arrested a short time later.

Arjona Molina allegedly admitted to removing the “red thing” — which Anthony Carroll, the lead pilot for Life Save Kupono, told police was the airplane’s control lock — and pushing all the buttons on the left side of the cockpit to start the engine.

Carroll told police Arjona Molina had engaged the plane’s electrical systems and confirmed that all he needed to do to start the plane was to engage the fuel supply, documents state.

Justin Brooks, customer experience vice president for Air Methods, Life Save Kupono’s parent company, estimated the value of the aircraft and its contents to be $1.5 million, according to documents.

Arjona Molina has no felony convictions in the U.S.

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Attempted first-degree theft and first-degree property damage, the two most serious charges, are Class B felonies that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment upon conviction. The mental exam halts other proceedings in the case.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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