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Ex-Southwest Pilot Gets Probation for Exposing Himself, Performing Lewd Act During a Flight

Ex-Southwest Pilot Gets Probation for Exposing Himself, Performing Lewd Act During a Flight

A now-retired Southwest Airlines pilot has been slapped with a $5,000 fine and sentenced to 12-months probation after admitting to performing a “lewd, indecent, or obscene” during a flight in which he was Captain and pilot in command. A female co-pilot who the Captain had never met before had to continue flying as he performed the act in front of her.

Prosecutors had alleged that Michael Haak, 60, of Longwood, Florida got up from his seat, removed his clothing and started watching pornography on his laptop after the Southwest Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Orlando on August 10, 2020, reached cruising altitude.

“As the plane continued its flight, Haak further engaged in inappropriate conduct in the cockpit, as the First Officer continued to perform her duties as an assigned aircrew member,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said on Friday.

Haak was charged in April and faced the threat of a maximum sentence of 90 days imprisonment if found guilty. He was charged in Maryland because it was one of the state’s that the aircraft flew over.

As part of a plea agreement, his defence attorney argued Haak deserved a more lenient sentence because that he had been a Southwest Airlines pilot for 27-years before his retirement on August 31, 2020. During his career, Haak had received numerous commendations and letters of support from passengers, colleagues and even Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly.

Haak apologized for his behavior but maintained that the act had been consensual. “It started as a consensual prank between me and the other pilot. I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years,” Haak told the court via video link.

The judge told Haak that his actions had traumatized the female First Officer.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Southwest said the airline “does not tolerate behavior of this nature and will take prompt action if such conduct is substantiated.”

Although Haak had already voluntarily retired by the time Southwest found out about the criminal complaint, the airline said it “did investigate the matter and as a result, ceased paying Mr. Haak any benefits he was entitled to receive as a result of his separation”.

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