Pilot Who Ditched Baron in Gulf of Mexico Pleads Guilty to Insurance Fraud

Theodore R. Wright III faces up to 40 years in federal prison for the 2012 incident and other fraud-related crimes.

Theodore Robert Wright
Theodore Wright III (far right) and Raymond Fosdick (second from right) with Coast Guard officers after their 2012 ditching of a Beech Baron in the Gulf of Mexico.U.S. Coast Guard

A plea deal has brought a swift conclusion to the legal case against Theodore R. Wright III and three of his accomplices, who were charged in July with a massive insurance fraud scheme involving airplanes, a $100,000 sports car and a luxury boat.

The highest profile crime involved the 2012 ditching of a Beech Baron in the Gulf of Mexico, the aftermath of which Wright filmed on his iPad while floating in the water before being rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. He later recounted a story about smoke in the cockpit and the harrowing ditching in an interview on the Today show.

Wright received an $85,000 insurance payment for the plane, more than twice what he paid for it. Similar schemes involved a Citation business jet that was set on fire, a Lamborghini that Wright crashed into a water-filled ditch and the intentional sinking of a sailboat at a marina in Hawaii, authorities charged.

Wright, who had become a minor Facebook and Instagram celebrity for videos and photos portraying him living a lavish aviation-infused lifestyle, now faces up to 40 years in federal prison. Before he was charged with the fraud-related crimes, Wright posted photos of himself flying his Learjet, shooting military style guns from a helicopter and performing aerobatics in his L-39 jet in a tuxedo.