Alumnus killed after stealing and crashing plane

Logan James (right) with his flight instructor. Photo courtesy of Logan James' Instagram

Logan Timothy James stole an aircraft from the ATP Flight School at Addison Airport on Jan. 24, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, before dying in a crash nine miles northeast of Telephone, Texas. 

Prior to the incident, James was cleared to perform touch-and-go maneuvers in a single engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk near the airport, but after the first landing and takeoff at 6:54 p.m., James changed course and relayed his last recorded message to Addison Tower air traffic control at 7:04 p.m. In the recording, James says he is headed to East Texas before the audio abruptly cuts off. 

“Career track 655 is actually going to depart to the east,” James said. “I’m climbing up through the clouds and then just gonna end outside of everything. And, as of about right now, you’ll probably realize that I’m not going to listen to y’all’s instructions, and I’m just heading to East Texas and a career track. So I’m gonna pull the Com 1 circuit breaker and the Com 2 circuit breaker right here soon … and as soon as I unkey the mic–”

After the transmission, the air traffic controller checked up on James four times in the next ten minutes, with no reply.

The Texas Department of Public Safety determined that the plane crashed approximately 90 minutes later in a remote field near the Texas-Oklahoma border town, approximately 83 miles from where he took off. James was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:26 p.m., and there were no injuries to anyone on the ground. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot’s family, loved ones, friends and colleagues,” The ATP Flight School said in a statement to CBS

Photo courtesy of Logan James’ LinkedIn

James was born and raised in Stokesdale, North Carolina. In spring 2023, he obtained a bachelors from EPPS at UTD majoring in Geospatial Information Sciences, graduating in the top 10% of the school. In June 2023, James began his training at the ATP Flight School at Addison Airport, and as of November 2023 James acquired his Private Piloting License.

“After I graduate at UTD, I plan to go to flight school and work to earn a spot flying for a legacy carrier, such as Delta, American, or FedEx,” James wrote on his LinkedIn

The Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed there were no other individuals in the plane with James. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident, and are still determining whether the crash was accidental or intentional, and where in East Texas James intended to go. Meanwhile, the Addison Police Department is investigating how the theft of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk occurred. 

“[Logan was] a wonderful son, with a gentle and loving spirit,” his father Mark James said. 

This is the fourth lethal aircrash to occur in DFW in the last three years. The previous crash occurred nearly two months ago when a small plane crashed near the intersection of W Park Blvd & Midway Rd in Plano, Texas, on Nov. 21, 2023. 

This story is ongoing and will be updated as The Mercury receives more information. If you have any tips, please reach out to and

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