Thomasville airport owner faces federal charges

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THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- Hiatt Airport owner Paul Douglas Tharp has been charged for allegedly lying to the Federal Aviation Administration about his qualifications as a mechanic and operating a plane without the proper pilot license.

The criminal charges stem from 2011 when Tharp was hired by Warriors and Warbirds (a group based in Monroe) that hired Tharp to fly and repair a C-46F airplane that the group purchased from an aviation museum in Midland Texas.

The United States Attorney's Office of the Western District of North Carolina released indictment Wednesday for the five criminal charges.

In a release from the US Attorney office "Tharp told a group representative that he was an A&P mechanic and could get the C-46F in good condition, and that he was licensed to operate a multi-engine plane like the C-46F."

“Tharp knowingly and repeatedly lied about his qualifications to his clients and the FAA and in the process put lives at risk. Tharp’s lack of proper certification as a pilot and a mechanic is a serious safety hazard and now Tharp must face the legal consequences of these dangerous lies,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins.

Southern Aero Airplane Mechanic and former friend of Tharp, Robert Still said he was contacted by the FAA to testify as to why his license identification number showed up under Tharp's name.

"It's been going on for at least three years now for investigations that have been going on," Still said. "It's not a really good feeling when you get that especially from somebody that's supposed to be your friend."

If convicted Tharp faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the two criminal counts of making false statements to the FAA, and a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the three counts of flying without proper authorization.


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