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Danger pilot freed

PUBLISHED: 17:54 30 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:45 16 August 2010

A JUDGE who jailed a 66-year-old pilot for nine months for trying to take off from Biggin Hill Airport without a licence, has relented and has instead imposed a suspended sentence, which meant his immediate release. At last month s hearing, Judge Simon P

A JUDGE who jailed a 66-year-old pilot for nine months for trying to take off from Biggin Hill Airport without a licence, has relented and has instead imposed a suspended sentence, which meant his immediate release.

At last month's hearing, Judge Simon Pratt told Peter Fox, of St John's Hill, Sevenoaks, that he was "a very real danger in the skies".

He had admitted flying in contravention of an order from air traffic control at Biggin Hill and flying without a valid licence.

Fox has previous convictions for using a licence and medical certificates with intent to deceive, for which he was fined £5,000 in April last year.

Alison Salter, prosecuting for the Civil Aviation Authority, said Fox lost his private pilot's licence because he used a bogus medical certificate, and the Authority then ruled that his American licence was not valid in the UK.

In addition, his airline transport licence expired.

On October 31 last year, he taxied his aircraft, intending to go to Bournemouth, but control radioed him not to fly and he returned to the hangar.

On March 4 this year, using the same aircraft, but with its US registration number, he again requested permission to take off for a trip to Rochester.

He was once more told not to fly and he returned.

Defending, John Mitchell said: "His view was that he had a valid Federal Aviation Authority licence to fly in the UK. He chose not to accept the ruling of the CAA and that is why he is here today. He has shown some remorse and he has described his actions as 'very silly'."

He had had an appointment in Bournemouth to meet a prospective buyer.

Judge Pratt told Fox on Friday: "I don't rescind from any of the remarks I made two weeks ago. I don't feel the sentence was wrong in principle or excessive, but on reflection it may be that the last two weeks have brought home to you that you must not try to fly any airplane.

"Conscious that I am dealing with a man in his mid-60s, I have decided to suspend the remaining eight months for two years."

Fox was ordered to carry out 200 unpaid hours work, and to pay £2,000 costs.

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