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CEDAR RAPIDS — A New Mexico man who attempted to pilot a plane that had engine failure from Wisconsin to New Mexico without a pilot’s license was sentenced Wednesday in federal court.
Keith Alexander Thomas, 44, of Portales, N.M., pleaded guilty in April to one count of operating as an airman without an airman certificate.
According to evidence, Thomas and another man in June 2018 flew from New Mexico to Wisconsin so the other man could purchase a Cessna airplane.
Thomas, who didn’t have a pilot’s license, agreed to fly the Cessna back to New Mexico.
The purchased plane wasn’t “airworthy” and sustained engine failure as it flew over Iowa, according to prosecutors. Thomas had to make an emergency landing in Waterloo, but failed to establish radio communication with the aviation company whose airstrip he landed on.
The Cessna not only suffered engine failure, it was also out of inspection compliance and the landing gear was not operational.
No one was hurt during the emergency landing.
U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams sentenced Thomas to two years probation and fined him $5,000.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Morfitt and was investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General.
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