Southwest Airlines Pilot Faces Probation for Watching Porn, Exposing Himself on Flight

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Posted: May 30, 2021 12:00 PM

A Southwest Airlines pilot has been sentenced to one year of probation after watching pornographic content and exposing his genitals to a female officer during a flight.

Michael Haak was ordered Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson to serve probation and pay a fine of $5,000, according to the New York Post.

He told the judge in a virtual hearing:

It started as a consensual prank between me and the other pilot. I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years.

The incident occurred during a flight from Philadelphia to Orlando on August 10, 2020, according to prosecutors.

Upon the plane reaching cruising altitude, Haak got undressed and started to watch pornography on a laptop in the cockpit.

Federal prosecutors said in a statement:

As the plane continued its flight, Haak further engaged in inappropriate conduct in the cockpit, as the first officer continued to perform her duties as an assigned aircrew member.

Haak retired shortly after the incident and pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally committing a lewd, indecent or obscene act in a public place, which were brought against him in April. The charge is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail. 

He was charged in Maryland as it was among the states that the airplane flew over the day of the incident.

Michael Salnick, Haak's attorney, said in a court filing that the former pilot is not making excuses for his actions on the flight and that he accepts responsibility.

However, he argued for a light sentence because of his “lifetime of hard work and kindness.”

Salnick said:

The embarrassment and resulting publicity of this incident has in and of itself been humbling to Michael Haak and has served as punishment in many ways.

Federal prosecutors agreed to recommend probation without requiring Haak to register as a sex offender.

Southwest spokesperson Chris Mainz said that Haak's behavior was unacceptable and that the airline “will take prompt action if such conduct is substantiated.”

Mainz said in a statement:

Nonetheless, Southwest did investigate the matter and as a result, ceased paying Mr. Haak any benefits he was entitled to receive as a result of his separation from (the airline).