Journal of Writing & Environment

Flyway Summer Reads: Chris Wiewiora on Bob Friel’s “The Barefoot Bandit”


In the December 21st, 2009 issue of TIME magazine, I read an inch-wide article titled “America’s Most Wanted Teenage Bandit” about Colton Harris-Moore’s recent Cessna theft, crash, and barefoot escape from the wreckage. A photo accompanied the article: a pudgy-faced, dirty blonde kid stared at the camera that he held for a self-portrait. He wore a black polo with a white Mercedes-Benz logo patched above his heart.

Colton Harris-Moore (a.k.a. The Barefoot Bandit) captivated me with his nonchalance thievery and autodidactic pilot skills. He stole from citizens of the small vacationer community of Camano Island off the coast of Pungent Sound in the state of Washington. He learned how to fly from playing flight simulators on his computer and reading a flying manual he had ordered online.

Recently, I read Bob Friel’s thorough, but unsympathetic, “The Ballad of Colton Harris-Moore” in Outside magazine’s December 2009 issue. Apparently, Friel first broke the story about Colton in that article and has since spent the last several years tracking and investigating him for a book titled after his alias. This summer I’m looking forward to reading about the rascal thief The Barefoot Bandit: The True Tale of Colton Harris-Moore, New American Outlaw (Hyperion, March 2012).


Chris Wiewiora is the incoming managing editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment.