A pilot has pleaded guilty to landing and then taking-off, from RAF Valley in Anglesey last summer, despite the aerodrome being closed at the time. Richard Wood, 60, from London, was charged with two offences of flying within RAF Valley’s Aerodrome Traffic Zone without permission.
Mr Wood was today fined £3,400 at Caernarfon Magistrates’ Court for the offences, which occurred on 25 May 2020, a Bank Holiday. Costs of £750 were also awarded to the UK Civil Aviation Authority which brought the prosecution.
The Court heard that Mr Wood, flying a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, had departed from Fairoaks Airport in Surrey before landing at RAF Valley. The aerodrome had been officially notified as closed. That information was readily available to Mr Wood and should have been checked during his pre-flight planning routine. Military personnel at RAF Valley initially believed the aircraft was making an emergency landing and fire and rescue vehicles were deployed.
Once on the ground, Mr Wood explained that he had landed at RAF Valley to visit the nearby beach. Once it was explained to him that the aerodrome was closed and that Wales was under strict COVID-19 travel restrictions, Mr Wood got back into his aircraft and took-off.
Alison Slater, Head of the Investigations and Enforcement Team at the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “This was a case of poor pre-flight planning. A routine check would have shown Mr Wood that RAF Valley was closed. There were safety implications, and, fortunately, not more of a serious outcome.”