BIRMINGHAM—A Hayden man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to interfering with the June flight of a restored biplane landing at a private airfield beside his Blount County home by firing several shotgun blasts, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Haley, III.
Jason Allen McCay, 36, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins to one count of attempting to interfere with the authorized operation of an aircraft flying in the United States.
McCay is scheduled for sentencing January 10. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to McCay’s plea and other court documents, his interference with the aircraft occurred as follows:
McCay fired several shots from a 12-gauge semi-automatic Maverick shotgun as a restored 1943 Boeing Stearman biplane flew over his home on June 22 on its final approach to land on Campbell Field, a private grass strip runway next to McCay’s home. The plane was at an altitude of about 75 feet and was about 300 feet from touching down when McCay fired the shots.
Fred Campbell, who built the airstrip in 1963, bought the Stearman biplane in 1976 and, since that time, he and friends have completely rebuilt the plane. The plane had not flown for 30 years when they took it up on test flights June 22. The plane was concluding its third test flight of the day when McCay fired his shots.
McCay previously had filed numerous complaints with various agencies about airplanes flying over his house. He told investigators he fired when the Stearman biplane flew over his home because he wanted to scare the people on board.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Whisonant Sr. prosecuted.