A commercial hot air balloon pilot from Malmesbury who continued to fly passengers despite not holding a valid pilot’s licence has been fined and ordered to pay costs, following a successful prosecution by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Appearing at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on Monday, October 23, Michael Jennings, 49, admitted two counts of acting as a pilot of a hot air balloon flight without being the holder of an appropriate licence in contravention of the Air Navigation Order 2016.

The offences took place on October 2 and October 21 last year.

Michael Jennings underwent a statutory medical examination by an Aero-Medical Examiner (AME) in February 2015, to gain a medical certificate which is required to validate the pilot’s licence.

Mr Jennings was found to have increased blood pressure and put on weight since his last medical examination, so a certificate could not be issued.

In April 2015, Mr Jennings passed a flight test and was issued a medical certificate. He was only able to fly if he showed evidence to AME of a continued weight loss to ensure he was fit to fly.

Despite a number of prompts by AME, Mr Jennings failed to provide any information indicating weight loss between April 2015 and July 2015.

His medical certificate was suspended in July 2015, which immediately suspended his pilot’s licence.

Despite this, he continued to fly passengers in his hot air balloon.

Mr Jennings offences came to light when he attempted to renew his medical certificate with a different AME.

Following his guilty pleas, Mr Jennings was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay Civil Aviation Authority costs of £350.

It is a legal requirement for all licensed pilots to have an up-to-date aviation medical certificate.

The CAA will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure aviation safety laws are fully complied with and this includes prosecution.