November 19, 2013

Man arrested for aircraft violations

A Marathon man is in jail after he was caught piloting a plane without a pilot’s license, flying an unregistered aircraft, operating a plane for hire without  the proper license to do so and flying in a careless or reckless manner. His plane has been seized for possible forfeiture.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Safety Inspector was on vacation in Islamorada in September when he observed the illegal behavior of 46 year old John Walsh of Marathon. The inspector was in the vicinity of a sandbar offshore of Islamorada on September 14th when he saw a seaplane make a low altitude flyby about 25 feet above a group of boats and people anchored at the sandbar.

He saw the plane land close to the boats and the pilot and passenger got out, approaching the boats and people and soliciting customers for a ride in the plane for “three 20 dollar bills”. Walsh made the remark that he just “did this for fun” and his real income was from “resort investments”.

The inspector reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Security office in Miami. That office contacted the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for assistance in investigating. Aviation Division Director Brooks Bateman worked with that office on the investigation.

Director Bateman, working with federal authorities, discovered Walsh does not have a pilot’s license, nor does he have a license to carry passengers for hire in his aircraft. The plane he was flying is not properly registered, and he flew the plane in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another. Warrants were subsequently issued for Walsh’s arrest.

Today, Walsh was charged with possessing an unregistered aircraft and operating an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner. More charges may be pending against him. The plane he was flying, a 2011 M-Squared Breeze2 light sport with floats was seized for possible forfeiture.

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