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Aaliyah Pilot Busted for Cocaine Two Weeks Ago

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Aaliyah Pilot Busted for Cocaine Two Weeks Ago

Old 30th Aug 2001, 01:03
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Question Aaliyah Pilot Busted for Cocaine Two Weeks Ago

Odd that he could still fly for hire without going through rehab...

_____________________________________________

Aaliyah crash pilot
had prior drug charge

Aviator pleaded no contest to cocaine possession, other felonies on Aug. 13

MIAMI (Variety), Aug. 29 — The pilot of a small plane that crashed in the Bahamas, killing rising R&B star Aaliyah, pleaded no contest to cocaine possession and three other felonies 12 days before the accident, authorities said Wednesday.

The judge in the case withheld adjudication on the condition that Luis Morales successfully complete his probation. Without a finding of guilt, he was able to continue flying.

AALIYAH HAUGHTON, 22, pilot Luis Morales, and seven members of the singer’s crew died when the twin-engine Cessna carrying them back to the United States went down shortly after takeoff Saturday from Marsh Harbour in the northern Bahamas, where they had been shooting a music video.
U.S. and Bahamian crash investigators were trying to determine if engine problems or excess weight played a role in the crash. Witnesses said baggage handlers had argued with those boarding the propeller plane that there was too much baggage.

NO CONTEST PLEA
Morales, 30, of Fort Lauderdale, pleaded no contest in Broward County court on Aug. 13 to charges of cocaine possession, dealing in stolen property, grand theft and driving with a suspended license, state prosecutors said.
He received a sentence of three years probation and was required to undergo urine testing for illegal drugs.
According to court records, a Broward County sheriff’s deputy saw Morales run a stop sign in Pompano Beach on July 7.

“The officer observed crack cocaine on the seat, arrested the gentleman on traffic violations, had the car inspected and what was found was cocaine residue on a tube in a bag,” said Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy.
The stolen property and theft charges stemmed from an arrest last November when Morales allegedly tried to sell a stolen model airplane and a toolbox worth about $345 back to the store where they had been purchased.
The judge in the case withheld adjudication on the condition that Morales successfully complete his probation. Without a finding of guilt, he was able to continue flying.


http://www.msnbc.com/news/621406.asp
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 04:04
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Red face

And the point is what?

From all news reports I have read... and correct me if I missed something..Isn't this the same pilot who didn't want to fly the plane and got into an heated arguement on the runway regarding the airworthiness of the aircraft with the additional weight?

Are you insunating that once a cocaine user, always a cocaine user? Or worse ?

Whatshouldiuse
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 05:04
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Unhappy

NBC News reported that they have weighed the luggage from the crashed plane, and based on the luggage weight, the plane was between 700 and 1500 pounds overweight at takeoff.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 08:30
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As a former fr8 dog and I do not support this action but the A/C will fly 700lbs over gross than it will out of fuel!

Glad to leave those Montana days behind!
 
Old 30th Aug 2001, 10:28
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Ahhhh!

Don't fly overweight. If you have an argument about it, if you're unsure... don't do it! How many times does it take?! God bless them all..
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 12:25
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whatshouldiuse,
First of all, we have only read newspaper reports of an accident in a highly specialised industry. For any particular incident the accident investigation report will be closer to the truth, however, in general terms - to say "I do not want to go overweight" is not good enough.
An aircraft commander has a great deal of authority and, within reason and the law, may run the flight exactly as wished including throwing off luggage or passengers which take the aircraft overweight.
Unfortunately some operators demand illegal operation from low hours pilots who do not wish to be fired or to whistle blow. This, of course, also puts compliant operators at a commercial disadvantage.
I was told by a flight ops inspector that it is very difficult to monitor these breaches of the law due to shortage of staff and, in any case, when a FOI turns up, the jungle drums beat, word gets around and the 'goodfellas' operate legally until he's gone.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 13:16
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To come back to the topic; NO once a drug user is not always a user. And snorting up some cocaine ONCE wont makes you any less of a pilot. The uncomfortable point here is that an airman must maintain a high moral standard to operate within his profession and Luis Morales APPERANTLY did not. Further disturbing is that the Judge let him of too easy rather than to investigate further. To top it all of the pilot actually found an operator who hired him, scary !!! At the first suspicion of anything like that at the majors you'd be out before you know what has happened to you. Don't get me wrong now, I don't mean to trash the pilot R.I.P, but there have been too many unprofessional "hick ups" on this flight.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 13:56
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Bet the insurance carrier is having a party...if he was not the "single pilot" approved by the faa for that particular certificate holder, the bye-bye payout
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 13:56
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Budrvr - IT DIDN'T, and you leave the BAGS, not the fuel, I have flown this sort of op. and usually find the right sort of approach helps ( aviation is safe IF you stay within the limits).

nb It was also saying on cefax that the pilot was "not certificated" to fly the aircraft - don't know the basis of this, but if he was low experience this would not have helped with an overloaded a/c

Two hunters are being picked up from the bush by light a/c. they ask the pilot to load an elk they have shot. "too heavy" says the pilot. "we did it last year" say the hunters. Pilot reluctantly agrees.
A/C staggers off the ground and ploughs into the trees off the end.
"well, we got 50ft further than last year" says one of the hunters!
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 14:02
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NBC also reported this was the pilot's first day flying for this particular charter company, so this may have lessened his willingness to challenge a company customer.

Other press stories -- hearsay to be sure -- say that baggage handlers reported the luggage completely filled the back bed of a pickup truck. There was a video film crew on board, and their equipment plus the wardrobe and other stuff used to shoot the music video could have resulted in a lot of excess weight.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 16:45
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Here's more detail from this morning's Miami Herald. Even if the cocaine bust had nothing to do with the crash, the feds may come out with new reporting regs due to the visibility of this mishap. One of the incidents that prompted FAA drug testing for airline pilots was a fatal commuter crash in Colorado years ago where cocaine was found in one of the pilots' remains.

And no, I did not mean to imply in any way that someone caught with crack cocaine and caught dealing in stolen property was unfit to command a charter airliner out of South Florida <g>.

___________________________________________


Published Thursday, August 30, 2001

Court let pilot in crash conceal drug arrest

BY LARRY LEBOWITZ AND ERIKA BOLSTAD
[email protected]

The pilot of the twin-engine plane that crashed Saturday in the Bahamas, killing him, R&B singer Aaliyah and seven others, went out of his way to make sure that his employers didn't find out about his recent drug arrest.

Luis Morales III, of Fort Lauderdale, pleaded no contest Aug. 13 to charges of cocaine possession and dealing in stolen property. That was less than two weeks before the plane crashed on takeoff at Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island.

The court treated Morales like many first-time drug defendants, withholding adjudication -- meaning no conviction would appear on the pilot's record if he successfully completed three years of probation.

After the sentence was announced, Morales, 30, persuaded Broward Circuit Judge Royce Agner to add a special condition: that as long as he provided a constant stream of paycheck stubs to verify his employment, state probation officials were ordered not to contact his employers.

"It's not as unusual as it sounds. It does happen,'' Assistant State Attorney Jorie Tress said of the don't-call-my-employer condition. "Some defendants ask for it, and sometimes the judges grant it.''

Broward Assistant Public Defender Lorena Graña called it "in every way, a very typical case. He didn't have any priors. He was very remorseful. He was not your typical criminal or the typical defendant we see at the PD's office. He was always polite. He was always punctual. His parents were with him and really concerned. He really deserved probation.''

But it wasn't typical in one way. Since Morales was a charter pilot, the safety of his passengers depended on his good judgment and sobriety.

Officials of Golden Airlines, which employed Morales at the time he entered his plea, said Wednesday they knew nothing of his drug arrest.

Morales was fired Friday, 24 hours before the fatal crash. It had nothing to do with drugs; he simply failed to show up for work two days in a row. He apparently had been on the job for one day with another employer, Blackhawk International Airways, when the Cessna 402B he was piloting for Blackhawk went down shortly after takeoff from Great Abaco en route to Opa-locka Airport.


CAUSE UNKNOWN

The cause of the crash has not been determined, but the probe is focusing on the possibility the plane was overloaded.

Although the withholding of adjudication by the court meant that Morales would not have a criminal record, in the eyes of the Federal Aviation Administration it was the same as a criminal conviction.

Morales was required to report the no-contest plea to the drug charge if he wanted to maintain his FAA commercial pilot certification.

But not right away.

Unlike some professional licensing organizations that require their members to report drug- and alcohol-related problems shortly after an arrest, the FAA requires pilots to report DUI and other motor-vehicle convictions within 60 days of a judge's final order.

Gary J. Trichter, a Houston defense attorney who specializes in DUI law and its application to FAA licensing issues, said the agency has a strong record of monitoring pilot safety. The FAA has the power to suspend or revoke a license after one offense, but in most cases the self-reporting system is used to "red-flag'' pilots, Trichter said.

"The agency has a pretty strong record of enforcement, especially with pilots who fail to report within the 60-day period,'' Trichter said.

In Morales' case, the no-contest plea would have served as his "first strike'' under an FAA program aimed at monitoring potential problem pilots. Any pilot who violates substance-abuse laws twice in a three-year period faces an automatic license suspension and possible revocation.

Friends and families of the victims were surprised to hear about the pilot's drug arrest. Becky Gallin, who buried her 41-year-old ex-husband, Scott, on Wednesday in Miami, said the survivors need to ask some serious questions.

"I'm going to speak with my attorney,'' Gallin said. "I think there's a lot of questions there that need to be answered. I think it's wrong. It's a wrongful death.''

Morales was arrested July 7 by the Broward Sheriff's Office in an area of Pompano Beach known for drug sales. A deputy who pulled over Morales' 1993 Volkswagen Fox for running a stop sign said he found pieces of crack cocaine and other paraphernalia in the car. According to the deputy, Morales said he was in the area to buy powder cocaine for a friend.

The previous November, Morales was arrested by Fort Lauderdale police after he tried to "return'' $345 worth of stolen aviation parts to a local distributor. Instead of giving Morales cash, store employees called police, who were investigating a string of airplane burglaries.

Morales was charged with dealing in stolen property after detectives found that a receipt in his bag belonged to the burglary victim who actually bought the parts. An additional charge of grand theft was tacked on when detectives recovered other stolen items.

Both cases were covered by the three years of probation.


`READY FOR TRIAL'

"We were ready for trial and ready to defend both cases,'' Graña said. "We made the plea out of convenience. It was a good deal for both sides. My guy didn't go to prison and wasn't going to have a criminal record when it was over.''

Morales officially started working for Golden Airlines on Aug. 10, three days before cutting the no-contest plea deal. Prior to that, he worked 50 unpaid training hours at the charter airline.

Morales, who flew mostly to the Bahamas and Cuba, failed to show up for a flight to Marsh Harbour last Thursday and was fired when he didn't show up for work again on Friday. He was killed the next day while flying the Cessna believed to be owned by Blackhawk principals Gilbert and Erik Chacon.

Blackhawk officials have not returned any telephone calls or been at any of their homes. Daniel Hughes, a former lawyer for Gilbert Chacon, would not answer questions about his client, according to his assistant.

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said Blackhawk had no service-difficulty reports or enforcement actions involving the downed plane. The FAA had taken four administrative actions against Blackhawk, for technical violations and not following recommended maintenance programs.

Among the four actions was a June 1999 "correction letter'' for failing to follow drug-testing guidelines. The company failed to ensure that certain employees were taking regular, required drug tests. All commercial aviation firms are required to have drug testing programs. Employees who test positive are supposed to be reported to the FAA, Bergen said.


http://www.miami.com/herald/content/news/loc al/dade/digdocs/012766.htm

[ 30 August 2001: Message edited by: Airbubba ]
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 17:25
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Lessee..no point suing the pilots estate and the operator will deny any knowledge of the pilots' drug use. Hope Cessna got their product liability premiums paid up.
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Old 31st Aug 2001, 01:35
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It just goes to show that there is never one definitive cause for an accident. There are usually thre contributing factors. In this case, over-weight, a power loss after V1 and perhaps poor pilot training/experience. I've seen small a/c in MHH get loaded to the gills and stil fly out. From what I can see in this case, he departed on 27 (usually the wrong way, but I don't know the winds that day). There is a small landfill hill at the end of 9 which he may have felt was an un-clearable obstacle. 27 allows someone to have as little climb performance as possible as it goes directly to swamp and ocean. There are a few old wrecks out there (on the swamp) to warn anyone of an overweight a/c.

IMHO, if they guy was busted for controlled substances, he shouldn't be allowed to sling bags let alone fly. It took way too long to clean up aviation in Florida and the Bahamas from drug dealers to allow druggies near airports.

Just the 2 cents of a local

Steve
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Old 31st Aug 2001, 03:10
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All;

In the New York Post today:

A drug conviction with no jail time does not cause one to lose one's FAA license. This only occurs if you serve jail time.

Secondly, the company this guy was flying for hadn't yet submitted the pertinent paperwork to the FAA or the FAA hadn;t received it at the time of the crash. Either way, the poor guy was flying customers in an "air-taxi" as the FAA likes to call it illegally.

Lastly, everybody who knew him stated the was a very good and a very smart pilot who knew his limits and the planes limits.


Perhaps, that's the reason for the arguement prior to takeoff. He knew something was wrong but didn't have the intestinal fortitude to deal with it especially as this was almost his 1st day on the job.

Would You ???


Whatshouldiuse

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Old 31st Aug 2001, 08:05
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Sorry whatshouldiuse,

This guy sounds like an absolute rubbish to me!

Thief, druggie (or courier!),dealer in stolen goods, driving with a suspended license....

I would NOT want someone like this being my pilot if I was a paying customer, I would NOT want someone like this working for me, I would NOT want someone like this sitting next to me in a cockpit.

And a pilot of higher moral fibre, character and professionalism would be far more likely to stick to his principles in the 'argument before takeoff', if there was a relevant one.

May sound harsh, but the facts speak for themselves. Commiserations to the friends and family of ALL who perished.....
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Old 31st Aug 2001, 08:22
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whatshouldiuse:

Well if the pilot was so good and knew his own and the Cessna's limitaions, uh why did this happen?

I did not know the guy and never flew with him, but I know that he got fired from a previous flying job a day or two before the crash. He han an expired medical certificate, plus all the other stuff on him: Drugs, stolen goods etc.
And uh, the crash which was most likely not caused by terrorist bombs, wind-shear, icing, wings falling off, etc., but rather by stupidity and ignorance.

And, yes, please quote me on that: I will stand behind it after having talked to a few folks here in South Florida who knew the guy and some of the details on this accident.

We have all faced the above choices in our flying career's, and most of us said no, screw the extra luggage, it ain't going on this flight.

We are being paid as Proffesional Pilots, let's, let live up to it.
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Old 31st Aug 2001, 10:15
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Hear hear!
nomoneynofly, TowerDog, my point exactly!
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