A Southwest Airlines pilot has been charged with “committing a lewd act” during flight WN6607 from Philadelphia to Orlando on August 10, 2020.
The pilot is no longer employed by the airline, likely having taken a buyout during the pandemic. His departure had nothing to do with the incident for which he’s currently facing charges.
On or about August 10, 2020, on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, namely Southwest Airlines Flight WN 6607, of which he was the pilot in command, the defendant, MICHAEL HAAK, intentionally committed an act of lewd, indecent and obscene exposure of his genitals in a public place…
According to the indictment, “[t]he acts began, continued and were completed while the aircraft was in flight” so that’s good information to know.
According to Southwest Airlines,
The Pilot in question is no longer Employed by Southwest Airlines and departed the Company last year prior to us becoming aware of the matter. The event was recently brought to our attention and we’ve cooperated with the appropriate outside agencies as they investigate. Southwest Airlines takes all matters related to workplace conduct very seriously, with a well-defined policy and reporting process for harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation claims. Our corporate Culture is built upon treating others with mutual respect and dignity, and the events alleged in this situation are inconsistent with the behavior that we require of our Employees.
Two things are interesting about this awkward event.
- The venue and law that seems to apply here. The flight was from Philadelphia to Orlando but the pilot is charged in Maryland federal court, applying District of Columbia law.
- He must have been turned in by the other Southwest pilot in the cockpit. With reinforced doors, no one would have entered without being granted access.
The pilot is charged with violating 49 U.S. 46506(2) which addresses how criminal law is applied on aircraft, specifying application of “District of Columbia…section 9 of the Act of July 29, 1892 (D.C. Code § 22-1112).”
Specifically, this section provides,
It is unlawful for a person, in public, to make an obscene or indecent exposure of his or her genitalia or anus, to engage in masturbation, or to engage in a sexual act as defined in § 22-3001(8). It is unlawful for a person to make an obscene or indecent sexual proposal to a minor. A person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned for not more than 90 days, or both.
The Mile High Club is over 100 years old. The very first couple to try it were using a Curtiss Flying Boat C‑2 off Long Island. The woman was cheating on her husband who was serving abroad in World War I. They managed to disengage the autopilot while engaged in their congress, sending the plane into the water. They were found naked by duck hunters.
Here, the pilot apparently tried to join on his own. Since there was another pilot there, I’d rate this incident as better for passengers than the Kuwait Airways pilot who let a porn star take over the controls.