TAMPA — An air cargo pilot has pleaded guilty to operating a plane while intoxicated with a blood alcohol level more than three times the state limit.
Philip Lavoie, 28, of Sarasota, was an employee for Flight Express, an Orlando-based air cargo company. On Dec. 8, Lavoie was the pilot and only occupant of Flight 840, which departed Greensboro, N.C., and headed to Tampa, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
During the flight, Lavoie was not in contact with air traffic tower personnel for "significant periods during his flight," according to a statement. He also changed the altitude of the carrier without the controllers' permission and diverted from his flight path.
Federal Aviation Administration controllers alerted Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, where two jet fighters were sent out to investigate. But Lavoie soon contacted the controllers again.
In Tampa, Lavoie failed a field sobriety test and his blood alcohol level was measured at 0.27.
He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.