How Many Rules Can be Broken in a Single Flight?
Michael Dana McEnry
September 9, 2010 — Michael Dana McEnry, a 56-year-old student pilot with a purported 1,200 hours of flying time, seemed determined to answer that question on an eventful flight that took place in and around Bishop, California, in January 2009. According to the original indictment as filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, McEnry was trying to land at Eastern Sierra Regional Airport (BIH) in Bishop, and was “…flying recklessly and nearly crashed into an aircraft that was preparing for take off (sic) on another runway. McEnry touched down and then went off the runway into sage brush, made a U-turn back onto the runway, and parked the plane.”
The indictment continues “Upon entering the terminal, the defendant said, ‘I just scared the s--- out of myself.’ He then asked, ‘Where am I?’ When he was advised that he was in Bishop, he responded, ‘Where is that in relationship to the rest of the world?’”
According to a report in the Central Valley Business Times, the only certificate McEnry had ever held was a student pilot certificate that expired in 1988.
McEnry failed a field sobriety test that was administered by a local sheriff’s deputy, and confessed to using both marijuana and Oxycontin, in addition to flying without a certificate. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of operating an aircraft without a pilot’s certificate last fall, and was finally sentenced earlier this week to 21 months in prison. Judge Oliver Wanger, presiding over the sentencing, declared that McEnry created a “… very dangerous situation” at the airport that day.