NORFOLK, Virginia — A legless man barred from piloting an airplane has pleaded guilty to flying without a license after wrecking a plane when his prosthetic leg got stuck on the brake during landing.
Robert R. Gray, Jr., 55, was flying a 1972 Piper aircraft in July when he flipped the craft over during landing at the Umphlett Airstrip in Suffolk, Virginia.
He initially denied flying the plane and claimed the pilot had run off, but later admitted he had been behind the controls and that he believed his prosthetic leg got stuck as he had no feeling on his right side.
“Gray admitted he had flown the plane, and told investigators he had no business flying the plane because he can barely drive a car,” prosecutors said.
Gray, who uses a walker and motorized scooter to get around, has bought and sold many aircraft over the years but was never able to get a license because he couldn’t get medical clearance to fly due to a variety of health issues.
Prosecutors said he had once had a student license but it had expired. Authorities had twice before caught Gray behind the controls but he claimed he thought he was allowed to as he was flying with a licensed instructor and the FAA let him go with a warning.
Gray pleaded guilty to serving as an airman without a certificate and faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison.