Helicopter pilot charged with flying recklessly
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Osceola County deputies arrested a helicopter pilot Saturday after they saw him flying just feet above the tops of cars traveling on U.S. 192.
Officials say deputies patrolling near the western portion of U.S. 192 witnessed a helicopter flying low over both east and westbound traffic. Deputies said the helicopter was flying so low, in fact, that had there been a semi-truck or other elevated vehicle on the road the helicopter would have collided with it.
Deputies then responded to Orlando HeliTours, 5071 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, where the helicopter was registered. There, after speaking to a manager, they waited at the landing pad for the pilot, Thomas Vorstman, 31, to return.
According to the arrest report, upon Vorstman landing his helicopter on the pad, he refused to turn off the aircraft and exit in order to speak to deputies. He instead informed deputies that he could not exit the helicopter, and took off again with a group of passengers.
Deputies reported that approximately five minutes later, Vorstman returned to the helicopter pad. After performing routine safety checks, he shut down the aircraft, and met with deputies.
Vorstman explained his low altitude flying by saying he “had a heavy load.” The owner of Orlando HeliTours, however, told deputies that the company has procedures for such situations that were not in line with Vorstman’s actions.
The owner then fired Vorstman, and deputies took him into custody.
Vorstman was charged with operating an aircraft recklessly and resisting arrest without violence. He was booked into the Osceola County Jail.