"Hero" Pilot Indicted
A former Vietnam helicopter pilot hailed as a hero for his emergency landing of a DC-3 on a residential street in Ft. Lauderdale last year is facing 20 charges relating to what authorities discovered in the plane. The DC-3 was carrying a load of granite bound for the Bahamas when it went down. Authorities subsequently discovered there was no customs paperwork with the rock and they also allege that pilot Charles Riggs doesn't have the FAA's authorization to fly cargo to the Bahamas, something they claim he'd done numerous times in the two years prior to the accident. The most serious charge is the lack of customs declaration but Riggs' lawyer, Chris Mancini, said Riggs intended to stop at a nearby airport to get the form. "They'll never prove that he intended to violate the law in any way," Mancini told The Associated Press. The DC-3 had engine trouble and Riggs was forced to put it down in a heavily populated part of Ft. Lauderdale in June of 2005. He managed to avoid buildings and people on the ground in doing so. He and two passengers were slightly hurt but there were no deaths. Mancini said the charges don't diminish the deed. "The guy still, I think, is a hero for navigating that plane as safely as he did," Mancini said. Riggs is free on $100,000 bail.