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Student Pilot Sentenced for Flying Without ATC Clearance

Gary James Gottfried, a former student pilot, was sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge in Billings, MT, for creating a safety hazard when he piloted his unregistered Cessna into Class C airspace over Billings (MT) Logan International Airport without clearance from the air traffic control tower. Class C airspace is controlled airspace around an airport that requires use of a specific transponder and two-way communication with the control tower. Gottfried, who took off from Chester, MT, was flying with an expired student pilot certificate. Gottfried was given pretrial diversion, which defers his prosecution for a year. During this period, he cannot pilot an aircraft and must enter a drug and alcohol program, since he was in possession of illegal drugs when arrested. OIG investigated this case with the assistance of the FAA.