'Fake pilot' caught flying passenger planes into Gatwick


Police hunt fake pilot caught flying passenger planes into Gatwick

Police are on the hunt for a "fake" pilot who flew passengers into Gatwick Airport on several occasions.

Michael Fay, 59, who lived in Alton, Hampshire, is reported to have forged pilot's qualifications and medical certificates to get a job with Lybian firm Afriqiyah Airways, the BBC reports.

Hampshire police told the news service that Fay did not attend Winchester Crown Court on 3 May, where he was due to be sentenced for fraud.

They confirmed that Fay had operated an Airbus A320 for eight months and had flown passengers into Gatwick Airport on eight occasions.

Fay, who was a former US Air Force pilot, was caught when another pilot's suspicions were raised on an internet forum. The pilot reported Fay to the police and he was caught.

The police are now working with the Civil Aviation Authority to track him down to serve his sentence. In his absence, the court ruled that Fay should be imprisoned for three years.

Speaking to the BBC, Detective Constable Chris Thorne, from Hampshire police, described him as "clever and resourceful," adding that he "clearly shows no concern for public safety if he's willing to work without the correct licences and medical certification.

"Had it not been for the quick thinking of a genuine pilot on the internet forum, Fay may have continued to put the public at risk in this manner unnoticed."

Fay is not the first fake pilot to hit the news recently. In March, CNN reported that a passenger used his mother's old Air France employee documents to con his way into the cockpit of a US Airways flight.

Philippe Jeannard had succeeded in flying as the third pilot on at least one commercial airline, according to local news reports.

And back in September, a fake Lufthansa pilot was arrested at Turin airport. He was charged with endangering air transport security and impersonation.

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