I was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 and their showing of 1970 TV movie/pilot San Fransisco International. One of the plots in the movie involves a twelve (or so) year old boy, who, alarmed about his parents' imminent separation, wanders across the tarmac, hops into the cockpit of an Aircoupe, and flees his mother by starting the plane and taking off before anyone quite knows what's happening. After he unsteadily flies it a bit (the best part of the movie is some stunt pilot making the Aircoupe swerve through the air like a drunken eagle), Bonanza's Adam Cartwright talks him through a safe landing.
Plenty of questions have been asked about the possibility of planes being landed by someone with no experience at all, and, of course, talk-down landings are a real thing, even if they're rarely done by anyone with zero experience. But I'm curious about the first part, where the kid turns a key, taxis away, and is up into the California sky without even having played Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Naturally, a civilian getting into a cockpit at SFO without being stopped seems patently absurd in the security-conscious present, but times have changed. Has anything even similar to this ever happened? And if not (if this doesn't over-broaden my question) could a layman get a plane, single-engine or otherwise, into the air without any experience?