Friday, May 26, 2017

Sean Michael Fitzgerald: Convicted of operating plane while drunk

Sean Fitzgerald, right, with his attorney Patrick Fragel

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - A co-pilot pulled from a plane for being drunk was convicted Friday, May 26, of operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol, a potential 15-year felony.

Sean Michael Fitzgerald, 35, of Boca Raton, Florida, was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

He was arrested before a flight at Traverse City's Cherry Capital Airport.

The co-pilot was arrested last month at Traverse City's Cherry Capital Airport while prepping for a flight to Massachusetts.

He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.343 percent, more than four times the limit for motorists to be presumed intoxicated. The legal limit for pilots is 0.02 percent

His attorney had argued that he didn't actually fly the plane.

The incident occurred around 7 a.m. August 25th.

Ryan Fitzgerald is facing a 15-year felony in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

Fitzgerald was in the cabin, preparing for a flight to Massachusetts, when pilot Manny Ramirez detected the odor of alcohol. He noted Fitzgerald slurring his words, too.

Traverse City police responded and took Fitzgerald off the plane.

Fitzgerald worked for private charter company, Talon, which fired him.

The plane was not ready to fly, and wheel chocks were still in place, but acting-U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said "that does not lessen the gravity of (Fitzgerald's) crime."

Fitzgerald told police that he had two beers at lunch the previous day.

He will be sentenced September 19th by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker, who presided over the four-day trial.

Original article can be found here:


  1. This man needs serious help, which he obviously knows now. Subsequent to the two beers at lunch, he was in a black out state. Air carrier pilots have done time for this and become stronger and have flown again. Pray for him. Just be glad the Capt. did the right thing. In years to come, he will thank him.


  2. Couldn't help but notice he put on his cleanest wrinkled shirt and unshaven for his court appearance. Very professional.

  3. Air India will hire him on the spot ;)

  4. Yes, the point exactly- this man needs serious help!


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