Home Posts An Ex-Southwest Pilot Has Been Sentenced For Exposing His Genitals And Watching Porn While In Flight.
An Ex-Southwest Pilot Has Been Sentenced For Exposing His Genitals And Watching Porn While In Flight.
Southwest Airlines

An Ex-Southwest Pilot Has Been Sentenced For Exposing His Genitals And Watching Porn While In Flight.


COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A retired Southwest Airlines pilot was sentenced to probation on Friday after admitting to exposing his genitals to a female first officer and watching pornography on a laptop during a flight from Philadelphia to Florida last year.

Before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson sentenced Michael Haak, 60, to one year of unsupervised probation and a $5,000 fine, he apologized and expressed remorse for his actions.

“It started as a joke between myself and the other pilot, and I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years,” Haak said during a remote hearing.

According to a news release from federal prosecutors, Haak had never met the first officer prior to that flight bound for Orlando on Aug. 10, 2020. After the plane reached cruising altitude, Haak "disrobed" and began watching pornographic material on a laptop computer in the cockpit, prosecutors said.

“As the plane continued to fly, Haak continued to engage in inappropriate cockpit behavior while the first officer continued to perform her duties as an assigned aircrew member,” according to the statement.

The first officer provided a statement to the court but did not speak during Friday's hearing; the judge told Haak that his actions were traumatic for the co-pilot and could have jeopardized the safety of passengers and other coworkers.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Cunningham, Haak "had a duty to comport himself in a much more responsible manner," and "this is not the type of aberrant behavior that anyone should accept."

Cunningham stated that the first officer "unfortunately suffered some consequences" as a result of the incident that Haak "had nothing to do with," but he did not elaborate. "She had a right not to be subjected to this kind of behavior, regardless of what motivated or prompted it," the prosecutor said.

Haak was charged in April with intentionally committing a lewd, indecent, or obscene act in a public place, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail; he was charged in Maryland because it was one of the states over which the plane flew that day.

Federal prosecutors agreed to recommend probation instead of requiring Haak to register as a sex offender, but the judge was not bound by that recommendation.

Haak, a Longwood, Florida resident, worked for Southwest Airlines for 27 years before retiring on Aug. 31, 2020, three weeks after the incident that led to the criminal charge.

Southwest spokesperson Chris Mainz stated in a statement that the airline "does not tolerate behavior of this nature and will take prompt action if such conduct is substantiated." According to Mainz, the airline only learned of Haak's behavior after he voluntarily left the airline.

“However, Southwest did investigate the matter and, as a result, stopped paying Mr. Haak any benefits he was entitled to receive as a result of his separation from (the airline),” Mainz said.

According to defense attorney Michael Salnick, Haak had a stellar career as a commercial pilot and received numerous accolades and supportive letters from passengers and colleagues, including one from Southwest chairman and CEO Gary Kelly on the day of Haak's retirement, saying, "We are blessed that Southwest has been your home for so many years."

Haak accepts responsibility for his actions and “makes no excuses,” according to his lawyer, who argues that Haak deserves leniency based on his “lifetime of hard work and kindness.”

“The embarrassment and resulting publicity of this incident has served as punishment in many ways for Michael Haak,” he wrote.

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