By Jonathan Sperling
Queens Daily Eagle
He tried to get his wings back after a deadly crash — but ended up landing in jail.
A Howard Beach man is charged with providing flight instructions to student pilots last year despite lacking the the required certification authorizing him to do so, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
The EDNY announced on Wednesday that Nelson Gomez, 39, was charged after allegedly providing lessons to student pilots at Republic National Airport in East Farmingdale, Long Island between May 2017 and June 2017. He was released on $200,000 bond.
Gomez’ Certified Flight Instructor certification had been suspended after he was involved in a “forced aircraft sea landing” in the harbor between Port Jefferson and Setauket in Suffolk County on Feb. 20, 2016. In that incident, the plane — which had no fuel at the time of the crash — was being piloted by Austricio Ramirez, 25 and Gomez. Two additional passengers were also on board, the plane, which had departed Fitchburg, Massachusetts bound for Republic Airport.
After the crash, rescuers managed to save all but one of the plane’s passengers from the freezing water — 23-year-old Gerson Salmon-Negron, of Elmhurst. The rescue efforts turned into a recovery effort as Gerson Salmon-Negron’s family scoured the beach along with rescuers. His body was eventually found nearly two months after the incident, according to NBC News.
Gomez’s CFI certification expired on June 30, 2016. Despite this, investigators found that multiple student pilots’ log books noted that Gomez had provided in-flight instruction on 18 separate occasions between February 2017 and May 2017. The CFI endorsements in two students’ log books also incorrectly noted that Gomez’s CFI certification expired in June 2018.
Gomez, who is represented by James Darrow of the Brooklyn Federal Defenders, was arrested on Wednesday morning and made an appearance in Courtroom 2A before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold in the afternoon.