FAA Revokes License Of Low-Flying Pilot Who Buzzed Santa Monica Pier In 2008

Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012, 1:04:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

A screenshot of David G. Riggs when he buzzed the Santa Monica Pier in 2008.
Courtesy photo
A screenshot of David G. Riggs when he buzzed the Santa Monica Pier in 2008.

Four years ago, a pilot buzzed the Santa Monica Pier in a jet plane and was later convicted for recklessly operating an aircraft in violation of the California Public Utilities Code.

Earlier this month, he had his commercial pilot license revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to news reports.

Earlier this year, that same man – David G. Riggs – reportedly had his probation revoked by a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner for failure to complete community service.

The FAA issued its ruling after completing an investigation of the plane crash last May, where a pilot and passenger were both killed. According to news reports, Riggs, 50, was involved in an incident in Boulder City, Nevada where he flew side-by-side with another plane, an experimental aircraft, just before it plunged into the desert, killing the pilot and a passenger.

The aircraft was an Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros, a Soviet-era, Czech-built military jet trainer, was coincidentally the same aircraft Riggs flew over the Santa Monica Pier four years ago.

An order reportedly issued by the FAA cited Riggs for allowing the pilot and passenger to pay to fly in an experimental plane. The FAA reportedly revoked Riggs’ license for recklessly allowing someone to commercially fly an experimental aircraft.

The Associated Press reports Riggs plans to appeal the FAA ruling. In that report, Riggs maintained he did “nothing wrong” and the participants in the other plane signed waivers. The May plane crash reportedly took place near Boulder City Airport.

In November 2008, Riggs was accused of flying the L-39 too close to the Pier and Santa Monica State Beach. There was also a second plane involved but, according to the FAA, the pilot of that aircraft was not charged or convicted of any crime.

Amateur video on YouTube shows the planes flying just above the Pier and relatively close to the shoreline along the State Beach. At certain points, Pier visitors are seen running away from the planes; screams are clearly audible. Several 911 calls were reportedly made during the brief aerial display.

In June 2010, Riggs was sentenced to three years’ probation, 60 days community service, and 60 days jail time; he was also fined $900. However, Riggs only served one day of his jail sentence due to overcrowding at the county’s facilities.

About five months ago, Riggs had his probation revoked but was ordered to complete 20 days of beach cleanup by September 2013 or face six months in jail.

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