Pilot in viral video prohibited from doing stunts

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Associated Press

Posted on January 24, 2013 at 4:32 PM

DALLAS (AP) — A North Texas stunt pilot shown steering his biplane perilously close to people on the ground was not authorized to perform the maneuver and could have his license revoked, the Federal Aviation Administration says.

Video of the incident Saturday at Lancaster Regional Airport, south of Dallas, was posted to YouTube and widely broadcast. It shows the plane approaching the runway and then dipping to the left, its wing just a few feet from the ground. The plane roars past two people, one riding an all-terrain vehicle and another videotaping the approach.

The headline to the 19-second video said the plane was traveling 200 mph, but that speed could not be confirmed.

The pilot, Jason Newburg, had a two-year waiver from the FAA allowing him to perform aerobatic stunts at the municipal airport, but it expired in November. Agency spokesman Lynn Lunsford said Thursday the FAA is investigating the matter.

"Even if the waiver had been valid, there's a requirement that people on the ground not be in danger," Lunsford said.

He declined to comment on any penalty that may be imposed, but violating FAA rules that prohibit pilots from endangering people or property can lead to suspension or revocation of a pilot's license.

An aerobatics waiver generally is granted to practice an array of aerial maneuvers or to perform stunt shows, Lunsford said. "We routinely issue them," he said.

Lancaster City Manager Opal Mauldin-Robertson said Newburg rents hangar space from a tenant who has a lease with the airport. She said the waiver was granted to Newburg as part of Aerobatic Aircraft of Texas Inc. She said the city is not involved in the FAA investigation.

Newburg operates Viper Airshows, based at the Lancaster airport, according to the company website. A biography for Newburg on the site says he's an award-winning aerobatic pilot who performs at airshows across the country. He could not be reached for comment Thursday. The voicemail inbox for him at Viper was full.

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