Reckless Pilot Missing After Crash in China

Chinese translator dies as David Riggs' Lancair 320 crashes in a lake.

David Riggs

David Riggs

** David Riggs**

Several reports claim David Riggs, a pilot with a checkered past who lost his FAA license not once but twice, is missing after his Lancair 320 crashed in a lake outside Shenyang, China. Riggs' passenger, an 18-year-old Chinese translator, died in the crash.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Riggs took off in rainy conditions from the Shenyang Faku General Aviation Base and flew directly to the lake where the airplane ultimately went down. He was reportedly practicing a maneuver in which the wheels touch the water, an extremely risky trick in any airplane, but particularly so in a nosewheel-equipped airplane like the Lancair 320.

Riggs' FAA license was revoked last year as a result of him selling illegal rides in an Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros in Southern California. Riggs was caught after an accident in May, 2012, in which another L-39 crashed while flying formation with Riggs' L-39. Two people died in the crash. A website called Aviation Criminal indicates that Riggs had since obtained a Canadian private pilot's license and that he was using it while flying in China.

An emergency revocation on Riggs' FAA license was previously issued in 2008 after he buzzed the pier in Santa Monica, California, multiple times, also in an L-39. The revocation later turned into a 210 day suspension, according to a legal document from the NTSB, issued on February 18, 2009.

Because the reckless Santa Monica offense was considered a misdemeanor, Riggs went to court in 2010 and, after an appeal, Riggs' final sentence included $6,000 in fines and penalties, 60 days in jail and 60 days of community service, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times from November, 2011.

Wreckage of Riggs' Lancair and the body of the 18-year-old have been recovered, but Riggs' body has yet to be found.

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