Flying farmer not licensed: police

URAWA, Saitama Pref. — Police have sent papers to prosecutors regarding a farmer suspected of flying an unlicensed airplane for eight years, it was learned April 10.

Shoji Kobayashi, 44, from Kamisato, Saitama Prefecture, is suspected of piloting a handmade propeller-driven airplane last October from a local park by the Tone River in Honjo, Saitama Prefecture, without approval from the Ministry of Transport and in violation of the Civil Aeronautics Law, police reported.

According to investigators, Kobayashi purchased an American airplane kit for 2.5 million yen from a dealer in Yamanashi Prefecture in 1988. He assembled the plane in four months following instructions from a manual written in English. He flew over the park an average of 15 times a year in the eight years since 1989, police said.

Residents feared he might crash because he flew the plane low over the park, which is surrounded by houses, shops and factories.

Kobayashi told police that his initial application for a formal authorization from the Japan Aeronautic Association, needed to apply for a certificate from the ministry, was denied because the wings were too short. He also confessed that he went ahead and flew the plane because he could not return the product, police said. Information on whether Kobayashi is a licensed pilot was not provided.