An American man found guilty of working as an airline pilot without proper credentials is on the lam after he failed to appear at his sentencing hearing in England last week, the BBC is reporting.
Michael Fay flew for Libya’s Afriqiyah Airways on false credentials, according to the news story that referred to him as a “fake airline pilot.” It claims he forged his pilot’s license and medical certifications to get the position. Calling him a “clever and resourceful man” who had settled in Hampshire County in southeast England, a British law-enforcement official told the BBC that Fay “targeted Libyan aviation at a time when the country’s political and economic standing was vulnerable and volatile.”
During his eight months in the cockpit of an Airbus 320, the former U.S. Air Force pilot landed at London’s Gatwick airport eight times, apparently without incident. But he aroused suspicion on an aviation forum online, prompting another user to tip off the British police. They arrested Fay in 2011, and he was found guilt of fraud. Though he failed to appear for his sentencing hearing last week, the court gave him a three-year prison term. According to the article, Fay might be seeking work as a pilot or flight instructor outside of the U.K.
A quick Internet search turned up a possible explanation for how Fay got the job. In 2010, a secondary school called La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island, printed a letter from a graduate named Mike Fay in an alumni newsletter, under the headline “Mike Fay ’69 Sends A Note From the U.K.” His message:
“Had a few minutes of free time, so I thought I would take a moment and update everyone as to what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic!
I had been working as a pilot for the Royal Family in Abu Dhabi. However, one of their financial interests, Afriqiyah Airways, located in Libya had a very bad crash in May. I am not [sic? now?] the Director of Training there. Interesting would be an understatement to say the least. But, I spend about 2 weeks in Tripoli and then I am back in the UK.
As I write this email, I am sitting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.”
[Photo credit: Mauro Orlando via Flickr]