Judge Keeps Pilot In Jail Pending FAA Action


For pilots who have experienced waiting for things to happen on an FAA time scale, the thought of waiting behind bars for the FAA to act could be daunting. One pilot in Virginia faces that situation, as a judge says he’s not willing to let him out until the FAA revokes his pilot certificate. The FAA says it can’t do that until it completes its investigation, and how long that will take, nobody can say. Pilot Ronald Davis Jr., 50, of Naples, Fla., is in this fix because he’s charged with flying under the influence, which is a felony in Virginia. Davis was giving $10 helicopter rides to the public at the Suffolk Peanut Fest last Sunday when passengers complained that he was flying erratically. Police said Davis failed a field sobriety test and registered a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.116 on a preliminary breath test, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

Davis told the judge several times he would voluntarily surrender his certificate to get out of jail, but that proposal didn’t fly. Jim Deuel, one of the Sunday passengers, told WAVY-TV that the four-minute ride felt unsafe. “It was a smooth takeoff and then all of a sudden he just shot up into the air and shot back down and turned to the left real hard,” Deuel said. He said the pilot banked sharply left and right throughout the flight, and did not interact with his passengers. “The whole time he just looked straight ahead. He didn’t even look at us. He just looked straight ahead,” Deuel said.