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FAA drops investigation into Riegelsville Bridge stunt

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A Riegelsville whodunit will remain unsolved for now.

Unable to identify the registration number of a small plane that flew under the historic Riegelsville Bridge last September, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed last week it had quietly dropped its investigation.

Arlene Salac, of the FAA, said the agency needs a registration number to identify the owner and origin of an aircraft involved in an accident or incident. “We would not be able to determine the aircraft’s point of departure without the registration number and a flight plan.” She said a widely circulated but fuzzy photo of the plane, also termed a crop duster, that might have cracked the case, lacked a registration number.

Social media likes and complaints (usually about errant trucks, not planes) came flying in after the mid-September stunt, and the event drew the attention of news organizations in Philadelphia and beyond.

Salac noted two federal regulations would apply in such an incident: flying at a minimum safe altitude, and careless or reckless operation of an aircraft. “But again, since we could not complete the investigation, these regulations are provided only as general guidance.”


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