There wasn't much left of the 1980 Cessna as crews hauled it away from a Northwest Fresno canal Monday after it crashed Sunday afternoon.
The plane's owner, Felix Boston, tells KMPH News that FAA officials told him it had been a long time since they'd seen a plane that was so destroyed on impact.
"It was sad. For six years, that's been my baby. You coddle it. You wash it. You put new leather interior in it. That's your baby," Boston said.
But someone else wanted it to be their baby.
"I parked the airplane after we did an annual last Friday at 1 p.m. Then I went out to go fly at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and no airplane," Boston said.
A day later, about 180 miles south of Concord, where the plane had been parked, Tom Macedo was turning on the Super Bowl in his Northwest Fresno home.
"All of the sudden the power snaps off and I'm thinking, what is this? What's going to happen?" Macedo said.
What had already happened was Boston's 1980 Cessna slammed into a nearby canal.
The pilot was killed on impact.
"Apparently, the guy took it probably Friday night. He changed the tail numbers on it, we still haven't figured out why because we thought there might be drugs. But the drug dog didn't find any drugs in it," Boston said.
The pilot's name has not been released.
We do know he stopped at a Walmart in Stockton before the crash to load up on junk food.
"This guy, they said he had prison tattoos all over him and he was on parole. But they couldn't find a pilot's certificate for him," Boston said.
"I see a lot of low-flying aircraft out here. There's enough low-flying aircraft out here, that if somebody doesn't know what they're doing, they're asking for trouble," Macedo said.
Reduced to rubble, Felix Boston's beloved Cessna 172 has now been grounded for good.
"It's just so sad to see somebody steal it and crash it like this. It's a shame that he lost his life. But I lost my airplane," he said.
A cause for the crash has not been released yet.
Felix Boston tells KMPH News the man flying couldn't have run out of gas, because the plane still had gas in its tank.