Pilot Who Bailed Out Sentenced To Over Four Years In Prison

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Marcus Schrenker, 38, of McCordsville, Indiana, who bailed out of his airplane in January and parachuted to safety in an alleged attempt to fake his death, was sentenced to 51 months in prison on Wednesday, CNN reported. Schrenker also must pay more than $34,000 to the U.S. Coast Guard, which mounted a search and rescue effort, and another $871,000 to the lien holder on his Piper PA46-500TP Malibu Meridian. That cost may be offset by insurance, however, the prosecutors said. Schrenker pleaded guilty to intentionally crashing an airplane and sending false distress calls related to his use of the aircraft in June. The charges could have sent him to jail for 20 years for crashing the airplane and six years for prompting the Coast Guard search.

Schrenker's January flight took him from Indiana to Birmingham, Ala., which is roughly where he parachuted out of the aircraft. He had filed a flight plan to Destin, Fla., where his father lives, but en route sent distress calls via radio saying he had been injured, was bleeding and the aircraft was losing altitude. He followed those with transmissions that he was losing consciousness, then leveled the aircraft at 3,500 feet, put it on autopilot and jumped, landing safely under canopy, according to U.S. attorney Tiffany Eggers. His lawyer, Thomas Keith, told the court Schrenker intended the plane to crash in the Gulf of Mexico rather than the neighborhood in Milton, Fla., where it ended up after running out of fuel. Schrenker has also been charged in Indiana with felony fraud counts in connection with three companies that he owns.