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California Man Sentenced to Prison for Piloting Private Jets without a Type Rating

On April 27, 2016, Arnold Gerald Leto III was arrested on federal charges of illegally piloting a private airplane from Los Angeles to Las Vegas without a pilot’s license. The Department of Justice and FAA determined that Leto had illegally piloted a number of flights dating back to at least 2015, and he ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges. This week, Leto was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison, and required to pay a $5,500 fine. ( More...

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This may be an amateurish question, but where were the owners of these aircraft? Why would they let an unqualified person to pilot some very expensive aircraft?
30west 15
Kenneth, I think that you would be very surprised to learn of the extent some "less than honest", shall I say, Part 135 charter companies will do to make a buck. They sully the reputation of the good companies.

The owner of the jet usually turns over management of his jet to a charter management company to operate it in support of the owner (Part 91 - a private, non-commercial flight) and then charters the jet to the general public (Part 135 - a commercial operation) for revenue when not in use by the owner. The owner trusts the charter management company to follow the management agreement which includes complying with all FAR's and Federal laws, that includes using appropriately qualified crews. These owners are not typically knowledgeable of the regulatory details of operating the jet and rely on trustworthy managers, some turn out to be snake oil salesman. Let the buyer (owner) beware!!
joel wiley 4
So who was he working for? Was he hired by the owners, a charter management company, or working as an independent contractor?
Was this an isolated case and a significant outlier?

I did find this fluff piece about how the FAA recognized him as a shining example a few years prior:
btweston 2
Daniel Baker 2
That is an automated program run by a web site that has a page for everyone in the FAA airmen database.
joel wiley 2
Thanks, it did seem odd.
Did he pull this off on his own? Did someone look the other way, just didn't look, or is there one or more 'unindicted co-conspirators'?
You are right 30west,a lot of shoddy maintenance practices along with pilots flying" The Parker Pen" for qualifying hours.
Will Butcher 2
Very well stated!
D. Benjamin 4
Practicing on X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator pays off again eh? That guy was insane for continuing to fly after his cert was revoked. Ok.. you got away with it once.. twice.. HS is watching us like hawks. I've been lucky enough to have flown 13+ years and never have been ramp checked, but I'm sure its coming. Now he has a Federal Bid over his head. Life and career.... DONE. Shame. Decisions like his hurt the aviation community as a whole.
wingbolt 4
I'm trying to figure out how many Falcon 10's carry 8 PAX
royalbfh 2
well he did have an open seat up front!
Daniel Baker 2
I'm guessing they mean 8 people including the pilot. One passenger rode right seat.
wingbolt 2
The actual federal complaint I found listed it as "approximately" 8 passengers so I guess one or more could have been an infant.
Dave Pierce 3
My guess is he may have owned the aircraft or bullshitted someone that did own it into letting him fly it, bottom line is you have zero insurance if there's a accident likewise he was probably rated at one time and lost his license do to a incident or lost his medical, I'm a 2000 hour instrument rated pilot and I wouldn't attempt to fly a private without a lot instruction.
There are lots of particulars we don't know and I certainly haven't read the FAA report. It is possible this individual owns the jet and would have been afforded type rating training as part of the purchase package. If so, that would open another can of worms in the aircraft sales industry. Sometimes the FAA catches on, catches the culprit, brings charges and gets to take the individual off the street. If you've been in the aviation industry long enough you realize these situations happen more often than the public realizes.
des quinn 2
What check flight was he given and where did he get FLIGHT PLAN ect??
He have some skills just to get it started and how many flights did he do?
harrydanik 2
in 11 months AFTER he gets out of the clink.
I bet he gets hired by another company, aka, US Black Op's, etc @ $120k.
if the guy can "really fly" a bucket of rivets, someone, somewhere will find a place for him,
just not under FAA control........
Ken Hardy 1
It really doesn't take two people to fly a Falcon 10, one qualified type rated pilot can do it safely, its only when you are hauling paying customers that you run afoul of the FAA.
ADXbear 1
Big roundies this guy has.. good to see him in the clink,but how is he stopped in the future?. Fake licenses are easy and less than honest 135s are waiting again..
They SHOULD have sent him to Flight School. Anyone that can pull this OFF, has to be a NATURAL in the Cockpit! We once had a Company Pilot (Company withheld) that retired in 1985, with at least 20,000 hours. I shared a Cockpit with him a hundred times or more. He was NEVER LICENSED by the FAA. They found him out during the preparations for his WAKE in 1988. After he was killed in a Motorcycle Crash with a drunk Driver in a PU.
Suppose your pilot buddy with 20,000 hours never had recurrent training! Pilot license along with other supporting documentation required.
BaronG58 1
Correct! What about medical cert and insurance, documentation required also. Wonder if he had a motorcycle endorsement on his drivers license or did he skate that too. )
Knut Meyer 0
The headline states the guy did not have a TYPE RATING, then in the body of the story it states the guy flew without a LICENSE. Two vastly different things. Is this a case of a reporter not knowing the difference?
joel wiley 4
First offense- no type rating. Before last offense, FAA pulled his license. Two offenses different times. We are plagued with journalistic offenses like poor, inaccurate reporting - this does not appear to be one of them.
des quinn 3
Joel, the world is full of journalistic that do not know the diff eg high wing v low wing JET or Tubo/prop so I never take notice of their reporting . CHEERS
Knut Meyer 2
My mistake - sorry, however the headline, in my humble opinion, should in that case have referred to the last offence. Not to worry - he did break the law.


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