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Man behind SJC ultralight crash facing charges after flying while intoxicated

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 6:35 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Driving drunk is bad enough, but “flying drunk is just insane.”

That is how some of residents are reacting online after 61-year-old Joseph Krol crashed an ultralight, a single-engine plane, into the area of Grant Road and Wild Heather Drive in St. Joseph County on Monday.

Krol, who now faces charges for Operating While Intoxicated and Operating While Intoxicated-Endangerment, was arrested after police say he failed a field sobriety test.

But what’s equally shocking is that anyone who flies an ultralight in the U.S. does not need a license or any type of permit. Meaning, it’s totally cool for someone like Krol to fly an ultralight into federal airspace with little-to-no experience.

“Anybody who flies in the ultralight business should, and I say should, but not required to take some training before he attempts to go ahead and launch into the space without any knowledge of meteorology, or turbulence or right-of-way rules,” Donald Neimeyer, an Federal Aviation Association pilot examiner for 41 years, told 16 News Now Tuesday.

According to the FAA, pilots must have a blood alcohol concentration below .04 to fly.

There is also a “bottle to throttle rule” in place to ensure all pilots must wait atleast 8 hours before flying if they have just a sip of alcohol.

But as Niemeyer explains, it’s a miracle that no one was hurt given Krol was operating while intoxicated.

“As far as this person drinking and flying, he is operating where as he could endanger your house. For instance, if he wants to plow his ultralight into your house, so he doesn’t really know any regulations,” Niemeyer says

Niemeyer’s advice…don’t drink and drive and don’t drink and fly either.

“Definitely get some training and get some idea from a professional that can help this person stay out of trouble, maybe out of the hospital I would hope or out the morgue,” Niemeyer says.

Thankfully, no one was hurt as result of the crash.

However Krol, as mentioned, is facing charges and is expected in court next month on February 7th at 8 a.m.

Until then, stick with 16 News Now as we continue to follow this developing story.

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