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North Carolina Pilot Sentenced for Operating Aircraft without Proper Licensing and Providing False Statements to FAA

On March 26, 2015, Paul Douglas Tharp was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Charlotte, North Carolina, to 60 days incarceration, three years of probation, and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, for serving as an airman without an airman's certificate and providing false statements to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigator. Tharp was also ordered to sell his airplane and not enter an airport, unless to fly commercially as a passenger, for three years.

The investigation determined that while Tharp held a pilot certificate with a single engine rating, he falsely represented himself as a pilot with a multi-engine rating and as a mechanic who held an FAA mechanic certificate with an Airframe and/or Powerplant (A&P) rating.

In or around 2011, Tharp was hired by Warriors and Warbirds, a group based in Monroe, NC, to work as a mechanic to repair and refurbish a multi-engine C-46 airplane. To earn fees from the group as a mechanic and pilot, Tharp told a representative that he was an A&P mechanic. Additionally, Tharp acted as the second in command pilot on a March 4, 2011, flight from Midland, Texas, to Monroe, North Carolina. Because the C-46F is a multi-engine airplane with a required crew of two, Tharp, who held a single engine pilot certificate, lacked the proper authorization to fly this airplane.

On or about June 5, 2011, Tharp represented to an FAA inspector that he was an A&P mechanic in order to obtain a ferry permit for the C-46F and provided the inspector with an A&P certificate number belonging to someone else. Tharp again acted as second in command of the multi-engine C-46F on the June 5, 2011 trip even though he should not have been flying this aircraft.