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Wed, Aug 22, 2007

FAA Investigates Pilot Who Flew Under CA Bridge

Sheriff's Helo Forced Ultralight To Land After Complaints

Fooling around in an ultralight aircraft may net some serious charges to a California pilot.

The pilot reportedly flew very low July 4 over the Sacramento River, allegedly alarming a group of tubers enjoying an Independence Day outing. He then flew under the Gianella Bridge-- an act was witnessed by a Glenn County sheriff's deputy, working boat patrol.

Sgt. Dave Lilygren promptly alerted the Butte County Sheriff's Office, which launched a helicopter to look for the aircraft. Witnesses described it as a homebuilt with two people on board.

Lilygren said the pilot was flying so low he thought a crash was imminent. The helicopter pilot found the plane and forced it to land on a gravel bar in the river, according to the Chico Enterprise-Record.

After interviewing the pilot, he was allowed to leave.

Richard Conte, an aviation safety inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Standards field office in Sacramento, said serious charges are likely against the pilot, saying he was "careless and reckless." Some of the rule violations may apply only to ultralights, which the pilot was flying.

The pilot told a reporter for the Enterprise-Record he was not the only one to fly under that bridge that day, but the FAA said there are no other similar investigations going on.

Any criminal charges will be up to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, and the pilot's identity will not be released unless charges are filed.

 FMI: www.faa.gov

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