ST. PETERSBURG — The pilot who made a spectacular landing on a busy Tyrone Boulevard in August had a less-than-graceful reason for doing so.
He simply ran out of gas, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. In a review of the Aug. 12 flight over local beaches, FAA attorneys said pilot Steven Paul Otterness, 25, was reckless and put others in danger. They recommend that his pilot certificates be suspended for 90 days. A ruling could take months.
But Otterness' attorney says the single-seat Piper PA-25-260 Pawnee, which was towing a Geico banner, is notorious for a mechanical defect that causes it to leak gas. The converted crop duster is owned by Advertising Air Force, based at Albert Whitted Airport. Otterness was returning there when the engine sputtered.
"He regrets that it happened, but there are extenuating circumstances," said attorney Ed Page. "He is just happy that no one was hurt and that he was able to land safely."