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Pilot Apologizes After Landing on Public Beach

F-16s

Proving that public beaches aren’t a suitable place for aircraft operations, a Kitfox pilot found himself arrested May 23 for reckless conduct after landing on a beach at Tybee Island, Georgia. The plane touched down on the remote north end of the beach without incident, but people were present. It was no emergency; the pilot and passenger got out and went for a sightseeing stroll. Surprised beachgoers eventually contacted the police.

Police Lt. Jonathan Hagan admitted the plane had been there for at least an hour before they knew about it. When the pilot and passenger returned, the police were there at his plane. The Arkansas pilot, Mark Jensen, claimed he had landed on beaches before, specifically in Alabama, and never had a problem. His Kitfox Series 5 Outback was impounded, and a wrecking service hauled off it off with its wings folded along its sides. Police said there’s no city ordinance which forbids landing on the beach but maintained the action was unacceptable and endangered other beachgoers.

The passenger stated they “landed well away from people,” but the incident is under investigation by the FAA, which has recently been perceived to have broadened their definition of a “congested area.” Sometimes such lapses of judgment are resolved as a fine for operating an unlicensed motor vehicle on a beach if the judge concludes there was no malicious intent. That outcome can be made more likely by the extremely humble and sincere apology the pilot offers the next day to the news media.

“I’m sorry because I know I caused a lot of problems,” Jensen said. “I have no intent to ever do that again. And I’m truly sorry, and glad that no one got hurt.”

One small mistake and you can find your mug shot gleefully splashed across the national media as an example of the actions of an “amateur” pilot. Proof that news still travels by word of mouth in our high-tech age comes from one online news story that incorrectly identified the craft as a “Kick Box” plane.

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