YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A man charged with flying an airplane too low over a Youngstown State University football game pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of inducing panic.
Christopher Wilkinson, 35, entered his plea to the charge, a first-degree misdemeanor, in municipal court before Judge Carla Baldwin.
He was given a 180-day suspended jail sentence with credit for five days served, as well as probation for a year.
He was also ordered to write a letter of apology to the fans who were in attendance at the football game and was fined $1,000.
University police filed the charge Nov. 1, 2019, after Wilkinson flew a plane over a Sept. 28, 2019, football game at Stambaugh Stadium.
One of his attorneys, Gregory Finnerty, said his client wants to put the incident behind him.
“There was no criminal intent here,” Finnerty said. “Although he may have been a bit overzealous and had a lack of judgment.”
Finnerty said his client is a YSU alum, as well as several members of his family, and he wanted to show off for a friend.
When asked if he had anything to say, Wilkinson at first said he did not, but Judge Baldwin said she wanted to hear from him.
Wilkinson said he was sorry and also appeared nervous before the judge.
“I should’ve been more vigilant that day, period,” Wilkinson said.
Judge Baldwin said she doesn’t think Wilkinson is a bad person but that he made a mistake.
“You’re not a bad person but you made a bad decision,” she said.
Judge Baldwin said she was thinking of the people who were at the game and how a low-flying plane may have scared them.
“My concern is for the 4,000 people who were at YSU that day,” Judge Baldwin said. “I am so thankful you didn’t have a malfunction with that plane.”