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FAA Revokes Riggs Pilots License After Death Of Business Partner And Passenger
By Mike Mitchell

November 16, 2012 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday revoked David Glen Riggs pilot license. You may have remembered him when he buzzed the Santa Monica Pier in 2008, as low a 50 feet in an Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros. Riggs’ pilot’s license has now been revoked in the death of his business partner, Douglas Gillis and a passenger, Richard Winslow.  

Both Riggs and Gillis operated a company called Mach 1 Aviation and Incredible Adventures which offered 45-minute plane rides in old military training jets. On May 18, 2012, pilot Gillis and a passenger were flying in an experimental exhibition Aero Vodochody L-39, N39WT, Czechoslovakian jet trainer, which crashed in the desert about half  mile from the Boulder City Municipal Airport (BVU), Boulder City, Nevada, both Gillis and the passenger were killed. The crash is still under investigation.

The FAA ordered Riggs to surrender his pilots license for offering and carrying passengers in the Czech-built experimental aircraft when he wasn't allowed to. The FAA believes at the time of the crash the company was illegally selling rides in the L-39 Albatross trainer jet.


Witnesses reported that a group of eight people had paid for a flight package. The flight was to be 45 minutes long, and at the end of the flight each passenger would be provided a film of their flight. 

The majority of the group was interviewed, and they stated that they were driven by bus from their hotel to Van Nuys Airport. Once they arrived at the airport they received a briefing of what to expect. Members of the group indicated that there would be four flights; two flights would occur before lunch, the airplanes would be refueled, and then they would have the final two flights. 

The passengers did not observe any mechanical problems during the first two flights. The accident flight occurred on the third flight of the day after the lunch break. Riggs was piloting Aero Vodochody L-39, N139CK and Gillis was flying Aero Vodochody L-39, N39WT at the time of the accident.



Riggs has had a number of incidents with the FAA and the law. He was convicted of wire and bank fraud charges for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Investors in his film ventures also are pursuing civil cases against him.

Back November 6, 2008, Riggs was piloting a 1973 Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros, a Czechoslovakian jet trainer in which he buzzed the Santa Monica Pier as low a 50 feet above the ground in an effort to promote a movie his company was making. As a result Riggs was arrested and given 60 days in jail for operating an aircraft in a manner that endangered life and property. Riggs at the time was a producer of jet action films. The Judge in this case also ordered Riggs to a pay $6,000 in court fines and to clean beaches for 60 days.

Gilliss who served in Vietnam as an Air Force captain held an airline transport pilot certificate along with a flight instructor and ground instructor certificates which were issued in 2011. Gilliss was also signed off to fly experimental L-29 and L-39 aircraft. In 2009, Gilliss had his pilot’s license suspended under an emergency order for signing a fraudulent Flight Review Endorsement.
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