Antonio Santonastaso piloting a Robinson R22 helicopter from unapproved landing zone in his back yard
Antonio Santonastaso has been sentenced to eight months in prison following his earlier conviction for operating this Robinson R22 without an FAA pilot certificate and from his backyard, which was not an approved landing zone. (Screenshot: YouTube channel mysons mom)

Massachusetts Man Sentenced for Piloting without License

A cautionary tale.

A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to eight months in prison after being convicted on several charges, including unlawfully operating a helicopter without a license.

Antonio Santonastaso, 62, of East Brookfield, received the sentence along with a year of supervised release following his conviction by a federal jury on one count of serving as an airman without an airman certificate, one count of making false statements to federal agents, and one count of attempted witness tampering.

Santonastaso’s pilot’s license was revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2000 after he participated in the theft of a helicopter from Norwood Memorial Airport. Despite that, Santonastaso was determined to have operated a Robinson R22 helicopter from his backyard more than 50 times over seven months in 2018.

When the FAA questioned him about the situation, Santonastaso made false statements regarding his eligibility to pilot the helicopter, claiming that the events that led the agency to revoke his license were a fabrication. During his trial, evidence showed that Santonastaso also attempted to corruptly persuade an individual from reporting his illegal helicopter flights to law enforcement.