A Virginia man with five past convictions was sentenced to 14 months for flying a plane without a pilot’s license. His company, fittingly, was called Outlaw Aviation.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) — Three years ago, small-business owner Ryan Guy Parker was hired to assemble a plane by Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The plane, with the tail number N4463F, was in poor shape: It had duct tape holding certain parts of the machine together and a plastic water bottle catching overflow from the radiator.
But before he could finish the job, he took off for a 10- to 15-minute joyride over suburban Washington, D.C.
The Fredericksburg man was charged in early 2020 for flying the plane without a pilot’s license, and by Jan. 22, 2021, he had pleaded guilty. U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis III sentenced the 31-year-old on Friday to 14 months in prison.
As quoted in the affidavit against Parker, onlookers who saw his 2018 spectacle from the ground were worried that Parker would crash the “bucket of bolts.”
“Multiple witnesses stated the weather and poor visibility that day made conditions too unsafe to fly N4463F, given its lack of instrumentation,” wrote Special Agent Bret Stolle.
The plane had two large tanks carrying 18,000 gallons of fuel but only reached about 50 feet off the ground. One witness said a crash would’ve been like setting a bomb off at the airport.
It wasn’t the first time Parker had flown: He told another witness that he’d flown Tomahawk and a Beechcraft Bonanza, the latter of which required special qualifications on top of a license to fly. On top of that, he registered his aircraft-cleaning business with the name Outlaw Aviation.
Prior to his latest foray, Parker faced five previous felony convictions, one involving another aircraft. In early September 2018, three weeks before the joyride now landing him behind bars, Parker tried to fly a plane out of Stafford Regional Airport. He walked onto the terminal apron, removed the cockpit cover and the engine manifold covers, and untied the plane’s wings and tail.
“These actions are consistent with preflight checks,” the affidavit said. “According to W-1, as a safety measure, pilots will not untie the wings and tail of an aircraft unless they intend to taxi or fly it.”
Parker tried to start the engine a few times, but to no avail.
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment.