A helicopter pilot who flew over a lake with a man dangling from the skids has been fined, sentenced to community work, and has had his flying licence suspended for three months.
Antony Shane Metcalfe, a private pilot, was sentenced in Te Awamutu District Court yesterday for allowing the "impromptu thrill ride" in January last year, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported.
The helicopter had continued over the lake until it was about 18.3m in the air before descending slightly. The man then let go of the skids, fell into the lake and swam for shore.
Metcalfe then took the man for a second, similar ride.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of operating an aircraft in a manner causing unnecessary danger, one count of operating an aircraft for hire or reward without holding a commercial pilot licence, and 10 counts of failing to maintain accurate records.
He was sentenced to 80 hours of community work, fined $3700, and disqualified from flying for three months, the CAA said in a statement.
CAA safety information general manager John Kay said Metcalfe's actions indicated a distinct lack of concern for the safety of the passenger, those in the area, and the aircraft itself.
"The helicopter was low level, over water, with a person hanging from a skid. If there had been an emergency, Mr Metcalfe would have had nowhere to go, and no option but to descend into the lake, potentially on top of that person.
"Although Mr Metcalfe demonstrated poor judgement, his subsequent remorse and early guilty plea is acknowledged."