Responding to criticism over the arrest of two men who were charged with trespassing after landing a plane at Luminati Aerospace in Calverton, the company’s chief pilot offered a statement Monday detailing the events that led to the arrest.
Robert Lutz said the landing was not an emergency situation, as he believes media reports indicated it was. Mr. Lutz said no emergency landings have occurred on the runway since Luminati began leasing it last year.
Read Mr. Lutz’s statement as well as the original News-Review story below:
At approximately 6 p.m. Sunday evening two men were arrested and charged with trespassing after landing at Calverton’s private airpark unauthorized for a country club weekend.
The pilot and owner of the 2000 Piper Meridian aircraft N112HD, Larry Dale Jackson from Orlando, had attempted a flight from Fishers Island on the Connecticut shore to West Hampton Beach airport Saturday evening for personal engagements when the fog began to creep in from the south. The pilot took it upon himself to make an unauthorized landing at the Calverton facility potentially conflicting with the current test flight program being conducted by Luminati Aerospace. Thankfully, the landing was uneventful and test aircraft were safely on the ground. The Instrument rated pilot failed to contact the Town of Riverhead or Luminati Aerospace of his intentions. Additionally, the pilot took it upon himself to remove some fencing rope on the Luminati property to tie down his airplane.
On Sunday, when Luminati’s machinist showed up to finish a project, the plane was spotted parked and tied down next to the building. I was called and then notified Luminati’s CEO. While company personnel were securing the illegal aircraft to prevent departure prior to resolve, two gentlemen showed up acting in a cavalier manor.
When questioned by myself in the presence of the police, the pilot, Mr. Jackson, admitted to having at least one hour of fuel remaining in his Piper. That equated to roughly 200 miles of range left to pick a more suitable airport open to the public. At the time of landing, airports all along the Connecticut shore, as well as inland, were clear of clouds with good visibility.
When questioned about the choice of runway to land on Mr. Larry Jackson replied that he landed the way the wind favored. Notably disturbing about the response is had the wind been favoring the inactive runway, which tends to have people and vehicle activity on it regularly, he would have landed on the closed runway without reservation.
During the conversation with police an attempt was made by the pilot to pay Luminati for the unauthorized landing and overnight. Luminati cannot and will not accept ramp or landing payments as they respect the wishes of the town to not operate as an FBO.
This is the third event of unauthorized fly-ins at the Calverton Airpark which resulted in trespass filings, the previous of which involved a botched landing accident totaling a historic Stinson aircraft.
Two Florida men were arrested Sunday morning after the plane they were flying the night before landed on the Luminati Aerospace runway at the Enterprise Park in Calverton, Riverhead Town police said.
Larry Jackson of Orlando, Fla. and Robert Riley of Naples, Fla., both 53, were charged with trespassing after police were notified of the landing by the owner of Luminati, police said.
The men, who police said had left the plane overnight Saturday due to poor visibility and were returning to retrieve it when they were charged, were released for a future court date.
A police press release stated that the eastern runway at EPCAL is privately owned by Luminati, though the agreement last year was for the company to lease the runway from the town. Luminati purchased Sky Dive Long Island, which previously leased the runway, for $3.4 million in 2014.
Luminati Aerospace describes itself as an “aerospace technology company focusing on research, development, testing and manufacturing of next generation solar-electric unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs,” according to its website.
“Luminati intends to be first to market with a stratospheric unmanned electric plane for communications,” the company stated in a press release issued last month.
An emergency landing on the runway also led to Luminati to place a phone call to police in April. No arrests were reported in that incident.
Federal Aviation Administration records indicate Mr. Jackson is a licensed pilot and the owner of a six-seat, single-engine plane. Mr. Jackson is the former CEO of the Loudmouth Golf apparel company, online records show.