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  1. Kerry Swain

Fake pilot jailed for forging licence & flying into Gatwick

A conman who regularly flew commercial aircraft in and out of Gatwick Airport was grounded today for the foreseeable future.

Michael Fay, aged 61, from Alton in Hampshire will be spending the next three years in prison. He had failed to turn up for sentencing earlier this year.

The former American air force pilot forged his papers to get a job with an airline based in Libya. He was caught when another pilot became suspicious. As Kerry Swain reports from Winchester Crown Court, the case has certain parallels with the story in the Hollywood movie 'Catch Me If You Can'.

The interviewee in the report is Detective Constable Chris Thorne from Hampshire Police.

Libyan airline's reaction after pilot jailed for 3 years

The Libyan airline which employed a former American Air Force pilot who had forged documents allowing him to fly as a commercial pilot have issued a statement after his conviction for the crime.

Michael Fay, 61, of Alton, Hampshire, was jailed for three years at Winchester Crown Court. He flew planes into and out of Gatwick Airport for Afriqiyah Airways, as well as operating flights in Africa and elsewhere in Europe.

Michael Fay was a highly experienced airline Captain and instructor, qualified on the Boeing B747 and Airbus A320 who had over 20,000 hours of flying experience. It appears that in the latter stages of his career Mr Fay made alterations to his Singapore licence so that he could continue his flying career.

– Afriqiyah Airways statement

In its statement Afriqiyah Airways said it also wanted to make the following clarifications regarding its dealings with the convicted pilot, including the following:

Afriqiyah Airways:

  • 1 ... was the first organisation to react when it discovered Mr Fay’s documentation was suspect.
  • 2 ... contacted the U.K. Authorities, collaborated fully with the U.K. police which facilitated his arrest at London Gatwick.
  • 3. ... subsequently provided detailed documentation leading to conviction.
  • 4. When Afriqiyah Airways alerted the U.K. authorities it became apparent that Mr Fay was already known to them and other organisations as a forger of documentation.
  • 5. The selection & screening process that was applied by Afriqiyah Airways has been reviewed by an expert, & has been found to be in line with the Airline standard screening for contract crew at that time. Additional precautions are now in place to verify the validity of international licences.


Con man pilot sentenced to three years behind bars

A man who forged a pilot's licence so he could fly commercial aircraft into and out of Gatwick Airport has been jailed for three years. Sixty-one year old Michael Fay was a former American Air Force pilot. He moved to Britain and lived in Alton in Hampshire.

Fay was convicted at Winchester Crown Court of faking papers to get a job with a Libyan airline. Our presenter Amanda Piper spoke to our reporter Mel Bloor about the case.

Click here for the reaction from Hampshire Police, who were involved with the investigation.

Fake pilot jailed for 3 years disregarded public safety

One of the police officers investigating the case of a man who faked his pilot's licence and went on to fly people in and out of Gatwick Airport has given his reaction to the case.

DC Chris Thorne of Hampshire Police said the case of Michael Fay, was one of a man who seemed to regard the licensing of pilots as a bureaucratic process that did not apply to him. Fay aged 61, and who lived in Alton, was sentenced to three years behind bars.