High-Flying Con/Flyer Gets Wings Clipped... By LA Court
It finally happened... after countless episodes of "how long can
he keep getting away with this nonsense?", Convicted Felon and
occasional aero-embarrassment, David G Riggs (48), was sent to jail
a few hours ago after a Judge affirmed his 2010 conviction for a
dangerous high-speed jet buzz job over the Santa Monica Pier in
2008. Riggs will also have to pay some $6000 in court costs and
associated fines and fees. Riggs became a pilot in 1984, and has
multiple convictions for wire fraud, bank fraud and passport
In this incident, Riggs was convicted of recklessly operating an
aircraft in a manner that endangered life and property for flying
(at times) within 50 feet above the ground over the pier in the
Soviet-era jet. The stunt was to promote the movie "Kerosene
Cowboys," which was never released. He was originally convicted in
2010. His attorney had appealed the jail time portion of the
conviction based on the assertion that the stunt was carefully
choreographed and performed by a professional pilot. He also
maintained that Riggs did not fly too low or too close to the
people on the pier or the beach.
As ANN reported, the FAA almost immediately revoked Riggs' pilot
certificate following the stunt. But on March 17th, 2009, an
administrative law judge modified that revocation order to a 210
day suspension, and it was eventually reinstated.
A three-judge panel in LA Superior Court, consisting of
judges Anita Dymant, Joseph Kalin, and Gregory Keosian upheld
Riggs' conviction and the original sentence earlier this month.
Riggs had more recently gotten involved with the bizarre and
convoluted "Ultimate Air Racing Championship" ... a planned
head-to-head pylon race that the FAA refused to allow to proceed
primarily for safety reasons -- an event that was surrounded by
dozens of false claims, contradictions and alleged frauds.
The current 60 day jail sentence may wind up being considerably
shorter due to well-known problems with over-crowding of the LA
Country Jail network... but the 60 days of community service are
expected to be served out in their entirety. Still; a great many
questions still surround Riggs, who has been seen frequently on
YouTube giving rides in an L-39 jet trainer for apparent
compensation and engaging in a number of high-speed, low-altitude
maneuvers that call into question the legality of his activities.
Further, allegations of numerous activities that appear to be
fraudulent continue to be made and pressed publicly and in court...
meaning that Riggs' current jail stay may be far from his last (and
is far from his first... having done prison time overseas as well
as in the USA for non-aviation-related crimes).
More info to come as this story develops...