If the pilot of a small plane didn't have to make an emergency landing in Waterloo, he might not have gotten caught flying with a license.

The trip Keith Thomas took from Wisconsin two years ago is going to cost him some bucks. The 44-year-old Portales, N.M., man has been fined $5,000 and ordered to serve two years probation.

Thomas was handed the sentence in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids this week. In April, he pleaded guilty to one count of operating as an airman without an airman certificate.

Information disclosed at the sentencing hearing revealed that Thomas flew from New Mexico to Wisconsin with a friend in June 2018. The purpose of the trip was so the other man could purchase a Cessna plane, which Thomas agreed to fly back to New Mexico even though he didn't have a pilot's license.

According to court records, the Cessna was not air-worthy and the engine stalled out as the plane flew over Iowa. The mechanical issues forced Thomas to make an emergency landing at the Waterloo Regional Airport. No one was hurt during the emergency landing.

At the sentencing, prosecutors said that Thomas failed to establish radio communication with airport crews on the ground. At the time of the landing, records show the plane was out of inspection compliance and the landing gear was not operational.

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