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Fri, Oct 28, 2005

So THAT'S Where My Engine Went

EAA Member Arrested For Stripping Seneca To Build His Own Plane

It started when Jerry Dwyer's Piper Seneca lost an engine over Iowa. He landed safely at Waterloo Airport and parked the plane -- for five years -- while he looked for a replacement engine.

Last year, Dwyer noticed something... well... odd.

While checking on his 1973 Seneca (file photo of type, above), he noticed an engine and propeller missing (presumably the engine that wasn't blown). Later, he found the aircraft sitting on wooden pallets -- the landing gear was gone. Then the autopilot went missing. Then other components -- seats, radios and the entire instrument panel -- just flat out disappeared.

At some point, Dwyer apparently became suspicious. He called police.

Tuesday, police arrested 48-year old John Nocero of Cedar Falls, IA -- an officer in the EAA's Waterloo chapter -- charging him with first-degree theft. Investigators think Nocero ransacked Dwyer's Seneca and planned to use the parts in the Mustang II he was building.

Nocero is listed on EAA Chapter 227's web site as the chapter's secretary.

Dwyer said his Seneca was severely damaged when the parts were removed. "He chopped a hole in the side of the damn thing to get the autopilot out. He's basically ruined the airplane," Dwyer told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

Court records indicated Nocero admitted stealing Dwyer's landing gear. Nocero couldn't be reached for comment. He was released from the Black Hawk County jail pending trial. If convicted on the first degree theft charge, he could spend the next ten years in prison.

FMI: www.gwu.edu/~action/2004/ia/iacounties/blackhawk.html

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