Man Arrested After Flying Plane Without License and Offering Cheap Rides: Deputies

John Walsh told customers he would charge “three 20 dollar bills” for an airplane ride, the sheriff's office said.

By Maria Camila Bernal
|  Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013  |  Updated 9:44 AM CDT
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A Florida Keys man was arrested after he was caught recklessly flying an unregistered plane and offering cheap rides, without licenses to do either, authorities said.

John Walsh,46, was caught after a Federal Aviation Administration Safety Inspector, who was on vacation in Islamorada on September 14, noticed he was flying too low over a group of boats and people anchored at the sandbar, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said.

After flying about 25 feet above the group of people, the Marathon resident landed the plane close to the boats and began offering rides, authorities said.

He told customers he would charge “three 20 dollar bills” for a ride and said he was doing it for fun. Walsh said his real income was from “resort investments,” according to the sheriff’s office.

The FAA inspector reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Security office in Miami, which contacted the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for investigation.

The sheriff’s office found that Walsh did not have licenses to fly a plane or to carry passengers, authorities said.

“The plane he was flying is not properly registered, and he flew the plane in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another,” the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said.

Walsh was charged with possessing an unregistered aircraft and operating an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner, and more charges may be pending against him, the sheriff’s office said. It wasn’t immediately known if he had an attorney.

Walsh’s airplane was seized by the sheriff’s office.

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