Non-Certificated Teen Pilot's Commercial Night Ops?
Eighteen-year-old Geoffrey Biteman has been charged in Roseau, Minn., with theft of a 1971 Cessna 150 that he allegedly flew regularly without a pilot certificate, or the benefit of any prior lessons, and later used for unique night operations. The charges bring a potential sentence of 10 years in prison. In separate instances, the young man allegedly accessed the airport with friends and drove the airport’s courtesy car, and accessed the incident aircraft. Later, he allegedly used the aircraft for commercial activities that included landing on an unlit road, at night, and loading the plane with sugar beets for transport, according to police.
Biteman allegedly first gained access to the aircraft by posing as a buyer and stating that he was both a pilot and aircraft mechanic. The seller allowed Biteman unsupervised access and gave permission for a flight, according to authorities. Then, they say, Biteman began to return for flights, regularly. At least one witness reported seeing Biteman flying the Cessna into and out of a nearby airport, frequently, throughout the summer. The father of the owner of the aircraft told GrandForksHerald.com that the plane flew regularly to three separate airports “all summer long.” The Roseau Police Chief said he learned that Biteman began using the aircraft to fly sugar beets for a local farmer. According to police, Biteman would land on an unlit highway at 10 p.m., to meet the farmer, and during one episode drove — and rolled — one of the farmer’s trucks. Biteman was arrested on Oct. 22, and does have a prior criminal record, having pled guilty to stealing a horse trailer earlier in the summer.