New York, NY – Three New York Police Department (NYPD) pilots were disciplined, and two more were kicked out of the department’s elite Aviation Unit, after they were busted for flying a spy plane in a penis pattern to make a point about their boss.
NYPD Inspector James Coan, the head of the Aviation Unit, found out about the pilots’ sky artwork when somebody showed him the penis drawing on the department’s flight-tracking software, police sources told the New York Post.
Then Insp. Coan showed the creative flight pattern to his superiors, and they were not amused by the pilots using a $4 million spy plane.
The problems began in July of 2017 when NYPD pilots were told to fly the department’s new high-tech, single-engine plane at low altitudes, 25 miles offshore, to scan for radiological weapons aboard ships, the New York Post reported.
Pilots objected to flying the single-engine Cessna aircraft so low over water, where they wouldn’t have enough altitude to save themselves should the plane’s only engine fail.
“If that prop [propeller plane] goes, it’s over. You’re going to crash into the ocean,” the pilots warned Insp. Coan, according to the New York Post’s source. “They wouldn’t have enough glide time to get back to land at that altitude. It was like a suicide mission.”
Flying so low over the water also put the planes out of radar and radio range, creating an even more dangerous situation.
The pilots complained again in March after Insp. Coan ordered them to make the low-altitude runs more often, a source told the New York Post.
Sources told the New York Post that a dozen of the 15 pilots qualified to fly the spy plane openly questioned how safe it was to fly a single-engine plane so far out over open water.
Eight of the 12 pilots who complained were stripped of their flight gear, including the five who were involved in the penis sky art incident.
Instead of flying the NYPD’s high-tech bird, the pilots were ordered to wash Insp. Coan’s department vehicle and clean the airplane hangars, the New York Post reported.
“Any of the people who complained about the mission - they got the s--t end of the stick,” a source told the New York Post. “They had to do all these menial tasks outside their job description, including washing his car.”
New York Police Department pilots make more than $100,000 a year in pay.
“They’re wasting a fortune in training and expertise,” a source told the New York Post.
By May, the department agreed to stop the low-altitude counter-terrorism missions altogether pending a meeting with the pilots union, but that still hasn’t happened, the New York Post reported.
Recently, NYPD has faced scrutiny for using the federally-funded plane for more than just its proscribed duties.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio used the spy plane to get from his vacation in Canada back to the city for a police memorial event on July 5, the New York Post reported.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill has also used the counter-terrorism plane as his own personal air taxi.
First, Commissioner O’Neill flew Air NYPD to the funeral of then-Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce’s mother, Dolores.
Then the commissioner used the plane on July 8 to travel to western New York for a state trooper’s funeral.
The New York Post reported that FEMA, the agency which funded the cutting-edge airplane, said it was looking into whether the NYPD had misused the Cessna.
NYPD officials did not respond to requests for comment from the New York Post.