Judge refuses to dismiss low YSU stadium flight case against pilot
In a nine-page ruling handed down late Friday, Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Carla Baldwin dismissed a petition to have the case against pilot Christopher Wilkinson thrown out.
In November 2019, authorities charged Wilkinson with inducing panic and disorderly conduct after allegedly flying a single-engine Cessna close to the press box and stadium lights while fans were watching the September 28 game against Robert Morris.
Wilkinson's lawyer says it should've been up to the Federal Aviation Administration to prosecute Wilkinson, not the city.
The ruling says, in part, "Other state courts have found that laws criminalizing unsafe operation of an aircraft are not preempted by federal law."
Judge Baldwin also said that "there is no express statutory intent made by Congress that leaves criminal prosecution to be handled solely by the Federal government."
According to FAA records, Wilkinson is a commercial pilot licensed to fly private planes and land multi-engine aircraft.
His attorney argued the elevation Wilkinson flew at during the game wasn't in the jurisdiction of those that arrested him and pressed charges.
Prosecutors say Wilkinson flew well below 1000 feet above ground level.
A final pre-trial hearing will be held at a later date.