A millionaire unlawfully landed his private aircraft on an RAF airfield so that during lockdown he could spend a day at the beach.
At RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales, Richard Wood, 60, was fined £ 4,000 for casually walking out of his £ 2 million flight, wearing sunglasses and shorts in May 2020.
In his £ 4m Chelsea, London home, a court heard “arrogant” Wood first scheduled to avoid lockdown by visiting his elderly mother in Yorkshire, but eventually opted for a solo 600 mile round trip to the beach.
The businessman who pockets £ 375,000 annually, setting off from Fairoaks Airfield in Surrey, chose to park up without permission at the closed military base in Wales, Wales Online notes.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Dudley-Jones said, “Ordinarily, civil aircraft will be anticipated when RAF Valley is open, but permission must be sought 24 hours before arrival.”
The airfield was closed on May 25, 2020 and a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) was given to that effect.
“The airfield was closed due to it being a public holiday and requests for civil aircraft to land at RAF Valley had been refused and there was no air traffic control available.”
Miss Dudley-Jones, representing the Civil Aviation Authority, said the plane was seen above the base by fire officer Keith Roberts and thought it was “in distress and this was an emergency”
She said: “He raised the alarm and there were fire crews deployed.”
He was asked by Mr. Roberts why he had made an unplanned landing at the RAF Valley, and the pilot responded, ‘I wanted to see the beach.’
When Mr. Roberts told him that there were Covid-19 restrictions in Wales, the pilot responded, ‘It’s all right that I had Covid-19 two months ago.’
“Mr. Roberts described his attitude as initially flippant and arrogant but it changed when he realized the seriousness of the situation.”
Wood was asked to stay at the base until the airfield reopened the next morning so that he could get proper permission to leave, but just an hour after landing, he decided to fly out.
Wood admitted landing and taking off from the base illegally.
He did not attend the hearing and was not represented in court, but he said in a letter: “I have learned from experience, have taken many hours of training and test flights since this day and now have my full UK license.”
Wood was fined £ 3,400 and forced to reimburse expenses of £ 750 and a surcharge of £ 190 and informed that he had to pay within 28 days.