Sunday, December 18, 2022

Cessna 150M, N9420U: Pilot jailed, charged in Youngstown State University stadium low flight case; Prosecutors say Wilkinson flew well below 1000 feet above ground level

Christopher Wilkinson, 33
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Youngstown, Ohio - The Springfield Township pilot accused of flying a private plane flew too close to the press box of a Youngstown State University home football game more than three years ago found himself in jail this weekend.

Christopher Wilkinson, 33, was booked into the Mahoning County Jail on charges of inducing panic and disorderly conduct on Friday according to jail records.

It was November 2, 2022 that Youngstown Municipal Judge Carla Baldwin issued a warrant for Wilkinson's arrest after he failed to appear in court for a trial on those charges, as well as a misdemeanor charge of unsafe operation of an aircraft.

At the time, Wilkinson's attorney told judge Baldwin that his client didn't appear because they needed more time to discuss the case since another lawyer who was acting as co-counsel withdrew from the case.  Judge Baldwin said that the discussion should have taken place before the scheduled trial date.

In November 2019, authorities charged Wilkinson after he allegedly flew a single-engine Cessna close to the press box and Stambaugh stadium lights while fans were watching the September 28 game against Robert Morris.

Prosecutors say Wilkinson flew well below 1000 feet above ground level.

Wilkinson's lawyer has claimed that it should have been up to the Federal Aviation Administration to prosecute Wilkinson, not the city.  Judge Baldwin denied that claim earlier.


  





21 comments:

  1. When they go low; we go lower.

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  2. Failure to appear before the judge was a dumb move. That is a sure way to get some jail time.

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    1. Evidence was shown that his flight was cancelled trying to get back into town the day before. This does not look intentional. It seems like the judge chose not to recognize this information for the sake of the media exposure.

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    2. This clown didn't even try to hide his N number. What a maroon.

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    3. Your comment is moronic.... Intentional act or unintentional act,, covering N number is additional violation of FAR's and proof of premeditation.

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    4. FAA is not involved? Surprising. If there are local city/state laws about aircraft operations he could be charged by city or state as well FAA. Apparently the judge did not buy the argument only FAA could take action. However the city/state would be limited in what penalty they could bring. City/State can't suspension/revoke his pilots certificate. Of course if in jail you can't fly. I suppose the FAA could get referred. In fact if convicted he would have to report it to the FAA. What is that statute of limitations? He violated one FAR I can see, flying too close to building or people within 1000' in a congested area (it is 500' in rural area). The Wing Wag was a bad look, like showing off. Hard to plea it was unintentional for reasons xyz. Not that it matters, too low it too low.

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    5. Not intentional to fail to appear at the original trial date.

      Textual misunderstanding in comment responses....

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    6. omg! A jet pilot. His words are prophetic. A guy shows off in a toy airplane and we should assume that it is a sign of the end of times.
      This site needs more incisive conclusions. Let's not forget the horrific wing wag. I would have been terrified.

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  3. Why is the judge not recognizing the proof the pilot couldn’t attend court because of a flight issue? They had him jailed?!

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    1. News story has attorney saying client didn't appear because they needed more time to discuss the case, not because of a cancelled flight.

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    2. Very convenient that the media left out/replaced the actual reason why he was not in attendance. It was not for “more time”. The motion to stay the capias is very clear with legitimate proof of physically not being able to make it due to the flight cancellation. Corrupt city and politics, feel bad for the kid.

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    3. Courtview docket entries show there was also a failure to appear for the earlier 7/01/2022 final pretrial hearing. Capias from the 7/01 failure to appear was withdrawn when 11/02/2022 was set as a jury trial. Co-counsel withdrew 10/28, primary counsel motioned 10/31 for a continuance and to set a new plea hearing. Docket entries noted primary counsel had been on the case for three years.

      Judge may have been unmoved by defendant not building enough contingency into arrangements to arrive in time for the jury trial given that it was the second failure to appear. The November trial date was a reschedule from the originally planned August trial date that got wrecked by the 7/01 pretrial hearing no show.

      The inducing panic and unsafe operation charges are listed in the docket as misdemeanors. Considering the statutes and incriminating video, you have to wonder what to make of three years holding forth on the not guilty plea, the earlier failure to appear, and that late motion for another plea hearing as the 11/02 trial date became unavoidable.

      Ref: Case 19CRB01708Y and 20CRB00168Y
      https://youngstownohio.gov/clerk_court

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    4. Dig deeper, and you’ll find that the prosecutor was not available during the first “missed” appearance. They were not obligated to show. The state was NOT ready to proceed, and the warrant issued was a mistake made by the courts. This is politically motivated, unfortunately.

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  4. Updated story shows he bonded out after spending the weekend. Those Ohio panic and disorderly statutes hit harder for misdeeds at a school's stadium than a non-school stadium. Hard to understand the logic disconnect of doing the buzz pass if his commercial certification is how he earned his living.

    Panic:
    https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-2917.31
    Disorderly:
    https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-2917.11

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  5. Mail seems to be a bit harsh considering the crime, as well as the world we are living in. Had he been a protected class, he may have gotten a trophy for being the first…

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    1. The weekend in jail was for the second failure to appear.

      The Ohio inducing panic statute he was charged under was applied as a first degree misdemeanor 2917.31 (A)(3), so they didn't choose to invoke the felony upgrade of the school provision in the panic statute. Even so, the sentencing for first degree misdemeanor provides for a maximum jail time of 180 days per 2929.24. Lesser degrees 2,3,4 provide for 90, 60, 30 days max.

      The unsafe operation of an aircraft was charged as 4561.15 (A)(2) which carries a max fine of only $500 but specifically provides for prison time of up to six months.

      It probably doesn't matter which class you are in if you are video'd buzzing a stadium in Ohio. Some additional jail time seems highly likely after looking at charges and statutes.

      https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-2929.24
      https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-4561.15

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  6. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

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  7. I predict the local law department being investigated for misconduct and the case headed to the supreme court. No one gets jailed with a legitimate reason for missing court.

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