A Steuben County man who steadfastly maintained that his 15-year-old son was not aboard an airplane he was piloting when it crashed in Perry back in 2015 has pleaded guilty to making false statements to a federal agent.
Brian Woodhams, 40, of Wayland faces a maximum five years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 3 in U.S. District Court.
Woodhams was issued a student pilot license by the Federal Aviation Administration in October 2015, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary C. Baumgarten saide. It permits him to fly an airplane with a flight instructor or by himself. If Woodhams flies with a passenger, however, a flight instructor must also be aboard the airplane.
On Oct. 31, 2015, Woodhams was involved an accident while landing his Piper Cherokee 140 airplane at the Perry-Warsaw Airport in Perry. Authorities said the plane veered to the right, and Woodhams over-corrected and hit the brakes, which caused the nose of the plane to go into the ditch off the runway. At the time of the accident, authorities said, there was a 15-year old boy on board as a passenger, but no flight instructor.
During a subsequent telephone conversation with FAA safety inspectors, Woodhams told them that he had suffered a bloody nose and hurt his shin during the crash. Woodhams also claimed that he was the only one aboard the plane at the time of the accident and that, after the crash, his son approached the aircraft and slipped and fell as he climbed up the flap, which resulted in a bloody nose.
Woodhams met with inspectors in person on Nov. 4, 2015, and again claimed that he was alone aboard the aircraft at the time of the accident and that his son arrived at the crash scene later, despite Woodhams being told by inspectors of a witness who reported seeing Woodham's son inside the aircraft.
On Nov. 10, 2015, Woodhams submitted a pilot incident report to the National Transportation Safety Board and failed to report that there was a passenger on the plane at the time of the accident who was injured.
On Jan. 10, Woodhams was interviewed by a Special Agent of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, and FAA inspectors and once again claimed that he was the only person on the plane at that time. Despite being confronted by FAA investigators who insisted they had evidence Woodhams' claim was unture, Woodhams stuck to his story until he entered his guilty plea Friday, authorities said.