Crash Pilot Had Certificate Revoked (Corrected)

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A man whose pilot certificate was revoked 21 years ago for lying on his medical application was the presumed pilot of a Cessna 335 high performance twin that crashed near Palm Beach County Park Airport a week ago, killing him and his wife. Philip Castronova, 70, and his wife Mandy, 39, were on their way home from Key West. Castronova was well known at the local airport and flew frequently but hadn’t held a valid certificate since September of 1997 when it was revoked. The Palm Beach Post reviewed FAA records and also discovered that Castronova had received a 180-day suspension just prior to the revocation for a long list of airmanship violations that culminated with him refusing to cooperate with an FAA inspector.

He could have applied to have the certificate reinstated in 1998 but there is no record that he did. It would appear that no one questioned his formal credentials at least in part because he was regarded as a competent and experienced pilot. “It raises some interesting liability issues but as for his ability to fly the plane, he can fly the plane,” said his hangar partner Glenn Corkins. Even close family members were surprised at his lack of certification. “He’s been flying forever,” said his brother Gary. Castronova was the owner of the aircraft, which was built in 1979, and owned an aircraft brokerage. The plane came down in a park near the airport and was mostly consumed by the post-crash fire. No one on the ground was involved.

An earlier version of this story described the aircraft as pressurized but it is not.

Comments (12)

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that I bet PC is an example of a very small percentage of pilots that have lost their certification, or never acquired proper ratings for the aircraft they operate.. They've been getting by for years, and nobody has called them out on it, including the FAA.. Crazy..!

Posted by: Tom O'Toole | September 16, 2018 10:23 PM    Report this comment

Sumthin' wrong with the description. A C335 is an Unpressurized version of the C340. Only 64 were built ??

Posted by: Larry Stencel | September 17, 2018 5:07 AM    Report this comment

What was the cause of the crash? What was the fraudulent statement on his medical?

Apparently this guy boght and sold airplanes and had an aviation business according to the Palm Beach article and he flew a lot.

How was it he got missed by the FAA which seems so ready to violate everyone for anything?

Posted by: FILL CEE | September 17, 2018 10:35 AM    Report this comment

"Philip Castronova, 70, and his wife Mandy, 39"

Well, I guess he died happy.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | September 17, 2018 10:48 AM    Report this comment

A sad occurrence, but a classic example of the futility of regulations making for safer flying. The FAA should take note that no matter how many regulations they promulgate, rule breakers will simply ignore them. And, the rules just make it harder for the honest people (i.e. most of us) to keep flying.

Posted by: John McNamee | September 17, 2018 11:56 AM    Report this comment

Assuming he had Aircraft Insurance, our broker sends us a form every year. Among other things, it asks the date of my last medical. (And BFR.)

If he had insurance, did he lie on that form too?

While I'm glad that Insurance Companies trust us, perhaps it would be prudent for them to "Trust, but Verify." Perhaps they should start requiring a copy of our Medicals. (And a copy of our BFR endorsement.)

Posted by: Mike P | September 17, 2018 3:44 PM    Report this comment

If this person has been thumbing his nose at the FAA for that long I doubt he had any insurance. Insurance is not required under pt 91. I'm suprised the FAA registration had been kept up. He may have been happy but too bad he took his younger wife with him. Mr. McNamee makes a valid point about regulations and those who ignore them. Unfortunately it makes everyone else's life that much more difficult.

Posted by: matthew wagner | September 17, 2018 4:51 PM    Report this comment

As for insurance companies "trusting but verifying", they like you can go to the FAA website and verify in less than a minute the medical certification status of any airman. They can also deny claims if a pilot information sheet is completed untruthfully.

Posted by: John Kliewer | September 17, 2018 5:35 PM    Report this comment

Good point on being able to verify date of Medical online. I had forgotten about that. (Years ago I opted out of having some of my personal info displayed. But I can't remember what they withheld. And, IIRC, you had to renew the opt-out request periodically.)

While the Insurance Co (if any) would be well within their rights to not pay out due to fraud, I bet that public pressure/civil litigation will cause them to pay anyway. (Like Piper paying for crash due to carb ice or Parker for crash in IMC when vac pump failed.)

Posted by: Mike P | September 18, 2018 1:42 AM    Report this comment

It may be that any insurance was through the brokerage somehow, where the onus may (might) be on the company to be sure only properly certificated pilots are allowed to fly. Seems to me that this could likely invalidate any life insurance policy payouts, as well. Actually, I would be amazed if any insurance claim was honored! (file under "Consequences to Consider when contemplating 'gaming the system'.

Pure conjecture on my part, but those were my thoughts as I read the article & comments.

Posted by: John Costello | September 18, 2018 3:54 PM    Report this comment

70 and 39 ... maybe there was a high altitude LOC event, Mark? We'd better get the FAA working on that. Safety IS paramount after all !! Perhaps establishment of still another AIR-xxx organization is required? You can never have enough FAR's ya know.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | September 19, 2018 11:06 AM    Report this comment

I'd like to know what the long list of airmanship violations was.
As for reinstatement of his certificate, that would not be the case. He would have to meet the recency of experience requirements and have a flight instructor sign him off for the piratical test. He would also have to pass any written test required. Basically the FAA can't take the flight time or experience from him.

Posted by: David Olson | September 20, 2018 12:59 AM    Report this comment

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