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Pilot Charged in Buzzing of CSUN Ceremony

Times Staff Writer

A Temple City man was charged Thursday with two counts of reckless flying stemming from an incident during commencement at California State University, Northridge, in which a plane buzzed a crowd of about 20,000 people at an altitude of less than 100 feet.

Michael Eugene Newman, 23, was charged with violating two sections of the state Public Utilities Code prohibiting reckless flying at unsafe altitudes and creating an imminent danger, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney’s office said.

CSUN Police Lt. Mark Hissong said Newman rented a single-engine Bellanca Citabria about 10 a.m. May 16 at Van Nuys Airport and, over the next two hours, performed aerobatics at low altitudes in the San Fernando Valley.

About 11 a.m., Newman’s plane swooped low over the crowd that had gathered in front of CSUN’s Oviatt Library, stunning many in the audience but causing no injuries, Hissong said.

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Campus police noted the last three digits of the identification number on the side of the aircraft, Hissong said. With the help of Los Angeles police, campus officials found that the plane was registered to Van Nuys Flyworks at the airport.

Newman was later questioned by campus police and said he had no reason for buzzing the crowd and did not know anyone who was graduating, Hissong said.

Each misdemeanor count carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

No date has been set for Newman’s arraignment in San Fernando Municipal Court.


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