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A small aircraft flying at low altitude over Lake of Woods in Orange County on July 10, 2022.

A pilot from Warrenton faces misdemeanor charges for flying at extremely low altitude over the Lake of Woods community in Orange County earlier this summer.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said the incident happened July 10 at 2:05 p.m. when the pilot flew over the neighborhood “at a height of less than 100 feet.”

The sheriff’s office identified the pilot at James W. Jelinek Jr., 65, of Warrenton, and arrested him Thursday for reckless operation of an aircraft, according to a news release.

The state code Jelinek was arrested under defines reckless operation as flying carelessly or heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, or without due caution and circumspection and in a manner so as to endanger any person or property.”

The FAA’s aircraft operating rules require planes to fly at 1,000 feet or higher over the highest obstacle in congested areas. In non-congested areas, the FAA requires an altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or in sparsely populated areas. “In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure,” the code reads.

Jelinek faces an Aug. 26 court date. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, he received a private pilot certificate in 2014 and is fractional owner of a 1993 RV-6 two-seater, single-engine aircraft.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone who has information “that may contribute to the case” to contact Deputy Ron Kesner or Maj. Michael LaCasse at 540-672-1200. 

 

Kari Pugh is digital editor at InsideNoVa.com. Reach her at karipugh@insidenova.com

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