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Student pilot in hot water in Texas for low-flying

August 22, 2011, 03:30 pm

A student pilot from Mexico City recently found himself in trouble when he was accused of flying at a low altitude and diving aggressively at boats in the Laguna Madre in Port Mansfield Texas, KRGV of Rio Grande reports.

The Willacy county sheriff's office received a number of calls reporting an aircraft flying within mere feet of the water. At one point, the plane came so close to a vessel that a group of fishermen reportedly jumped off of their boat. One witness claimed that the pilot, visible in the cockpit, made obscene gestures at people on the ground as he passed.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard both responded to the reports, and the FAA stated that they are investigating the incident. FAA guidelines prohibit aircrafts from flying at an altitude below 500 feet, a number that increases depending on population density.

Local law enforcement said the 20 year old student pilot could face up to 13 counts of aggravated assault as well as additional charges stemming from the FAA investigation. According to the FAA, student pilots must be at least 16 years of age and are required to have a student pilot certificate if they are flying solo, but require no documentation to take flying lessons.

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