CHAPEL HILL — Authorities continued a multi-agency search Wednesday for a Chapel Hill man accused of stealing a plane from UNC-Chapel Hill's airport.
Arrest warrants were issued Wednesday for Curtis Rene Mellott, 46, of 114 Mel Oak Drive in Chapel Hill. He is wanted on charges of possession of stolen property in Alamance County and felony larceny at UNC-CH.
According to recent court records, Mellott pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in April 2010.
He has a Cessna 150F plane registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. It is listed as a historical plane that can seat two people.
He also has a student pilot certificate that expired in November 2007, according to FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.
A student pilot may not command an aircraft at night or carry passengers, according to federal regulations.
The stolen plane, a Piper PA-32R owned by LFW Investments LLC in Hillsborough, was taken from the university's Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill between 9 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to authorities.
The airport has a gated entrance which is accessed by a code, but it is not secure, said Randy Young, spokesman for the UNC-CH Department of Public Safety.
"Folks can walk through the pedestrian access gate at any time," Young said. "There is no security personnel specifically assigned to duty in that area, and there is no personnel on duty after 8 p.m."
Plane owners are responsible for any additional securing of their aircraft, Young said.
The plane crashed in Alamance County about 20 miles from the airport between 11 and 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. It was empty, but blood was found in the cockpit. Rescuers searched until 4:45 p.m. Tuesday for the pilot and any possible passengers.
The plane can seat up to five people and one pilot, but officials don't know how many people were on board, said Chuck Pickard, an on-duty supervisor at the Alamance County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities were searching for Mellott locally and regionally, said Young. "Hopefully we will have an individual in custody soon," he said.
Efforts to reach Larry Warren, owner of the plane, were unsuccessful.
News researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.
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