A man who prosecutors said crashed a small plane in southeastern Virginia when his prosthetic leg got caught in the aircraft’s brake pleaded guilty Tuesday to flying without a license.
Robert R. Gray Jr. entered the plea in federal court in Norfolk, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a news release.
Gray, 55, has been around aviation for 40 years, buying and selling planes, and once had a student pilot certificate that has expired, court documents show.
Gray has a prosthetic leg and medical conditions that disqualified him from holding a pilot’s license, prosecutors said.
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On July 22, Gray crashed his 1972 Piper Aircraft at Umphlett Airstrip in Suffolk, according to court documents. As the plane landed, prosecutors said, it went off the runaway, spun halfway around and hit several small trees.
When first responders arrived at the crash, Gray, who was not hurt, at first denied flying the plane and said the pilot was missing, court documents showed. When law enforcers started to search for the allegedly missing pilot, Gray admitted that he was the only person on the aircraft, prosecutors said.
A few days after the crash, Gray told a safety inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration that the crash was his fault, according to court documents. Gray said lack of feeling on his right side because of the prosthetic leg caused the leg to become stuck on the aircraft’s brake, causing it to spin out on landing, prosecutors said.
Gray, who has mobility issues that require he use a walker or motorized scooter, told the FAA inspector that he should not have been flying a plane because he can barely drive a car, according to court documents.
Gray faces up to three years in prison at sentencing on March 23.
Gray’s lawyer did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.