Helicopter pilot admits reckless flying

Aug. 12, 2008 at 9:55 PM
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SUFFOLK, Va., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- A pilot who allegedly gave helicopter rides at a festival in Virginia while under the influence pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony child abuse or neglect.

Ronald John Davis Jr. faces up to two months imprisonment, the Newport News Daily Press reported. He is also to be banned from operating an aircraft for five years.

Davis also pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of reckless operation of an aircraft.

At the Peanut Fest in Suffolk, Va., last October, Davis charged $10 for rides. On Sunday, the closing day of the three-day festival, spectators noticed he was flying erratically, sometimes only 20 to 30 feet above traffic, said Jeff James of the Suffolk County State's Attorney's Office.

On one occasion, his rapid ascent threatened to break the rotors. His passengers included young children.

Davis's blood-alcohol level, in a test administered a few hours after his last flight, was .07, twice the legal limit for operating an aircraft. As part of the plea agreement, a charge of operating the helicopter while under the influence of alcohol was dropped.

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