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Teen charged after flying plane over school graduation

Published On: Jun 05 2013 08:03:22 AM HST

A former Harford County high school student faces reckless endangerment charges after police said he took to the skies for a graduation stunt.

BALTIMORE -

A former Harford County high school student faces reckless endangerment charges after police said he took to the skies for a graduation stunt.

Bel Air police said the suspect, who is a licensed pilot but under the age of 18, flew an aircraft over the John Carroll School commencement ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.
But all of the pomp and circumstance quickly turned to worry for many after witnesses said the Cessna 172 single-engine plane began doing flyovers and getting lower and lower.

"We've had streakers, (people) blow horns, had car horns. We've never had a plane, so this will go down in history," said Laura Lang, director of marketing at John Carroll School.

Lang, an administrator with the school, said at first no one thought anything of it, but as it got closer to the crowd that was watching on the bleachers and the graduates on the field, some began to get nervous.

"I don't know if you rev a plane engine, but the engine was so loud," Lang said.

School officials confirmed the juvenile was a former student, but never graduated. They said he was released this year over a disciplinary action.

Police said the teen rented the plane from Harford Air Services in Churchville.

Representatives told WBAL-TV 11 News over the phone that, in their opinion, the plane was not flying as low as people were saying.

11 News also went to the home listed to the pilot's parents for comment, but no one answered the door.

In the meantime, no one was hurt, and if anything, those in attendance Saturday will have a story to tell for the rest of their lives.

"It did not dampen anyone's spirits for the day and it didn't dampen the accomplishments of our 169 graduates," Lang said.

Police said it's not clear what the pilot's motive was in this case, but police received enough complaints to look into the matter and made the arrest. The teen was also charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting a school event. He has since been released to the custody of his parents.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Bel Air police are now looking for any video of the incident. Anyone who may have recorded anything on their cellphone is urged to call police at 410-638-4500 or email detective Jim Lockard at jlockard@belairmd.org.

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