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California Man Sentenced to Prison for Operating Plane Without Airman’s Certificate

On December 16, 2019, Arnold Peterson of Big Pine, California, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Fresno, California, for operating a plane without a pilot’s certificate. Peterson was sentenced to 1 month of imprisonment, 12 months of supervised release, a $5,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.
The investigation revealed that on June 8, 2017, Peterson flew a private aircraft through Class C airspace at the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport without contacting air traffic control (ATC). Aircraft are required to communicate with ATC via two-way radio before entering and while flying in Class C airspace. Peterson’s actions caused a regional jet to deviate from its flight path. ATC tracked his aircraft until it landed at the Portales Municipal Airport in Portales, New Mexico. Peterson’s FAA-issued pilot’s certificate had been revoked on June 17, 2014, and his plane’s registration had also expired.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with FAA’s assistance.