If you’re of sound mind and sensible constitution, you’ll understand that the experience of travelling by aeroplane is inescapably one of abject terror. Even if you do it every day, it’s always there in the back of your mind, a constant whispered refrain: man was not made to fly.
Welp, prepare for that whisper to get a lot louder, because Josh Hoch, a 31-year-old charter pilot from north Queensland, has just been granted bail after being charged with 342 aircraft-related offences, including sabotaging his rivals’ engines and causing “permanent and life-changing head injuries” to an aircraft engineer.
Good! It’s good that our rickety, God-defying flying machines have until recently been staffed, at least in part, by raving lunatics!!!
Hoch is the owner, director and chief pilot of Mount Isa charter air service Hoch Air. He was arrested on Tuesday after a three-month investigation into suspicious engine failures and aircraft tampering at Mount Isa Airport.
Hoch, whose antics are so jaw-dropping as to put him squarely in Scooby Doo-villain territory, allegedly poured contaminants and abrasive materials into the engines of his rivals’ planes, causing “catastrophic engine failure” that resulted in at least two forced landings. He is also alleged to have faked insurance claims, operated aircraft dangerously, flown without a licence and committed numerous safety breaches, with offences dating back several years.
Exclusive footage of Hoch’s arrest.
According to the ‘Courier Mail’, in the period between 2012 and 2016 when Koch was flying without a licence several high-profile passengers flew with him, including politicians.
Mount Isa Detective Inspector Chris Hodgman said it was “sheer luck” that no-one had died thanks to Hoch’s alleged string of sabotage.
“We are lucky over a number of years that an alleged rogue operator like this wasn’t responsible for a disaster,” Hodgman told the ‘Townsville Bulletin’.
“Two engine failures and the forced landing of the aircraft has happened — the pilots … were lucky to walk away.“
Hoch Air: bringing the kind of savage, bloody-minded competitiveness usually reserved for 1990s figure skating stars to everyone’s favourite site of intense bodily risk: planes. Thanks a lot, Hochie, now I’ve got to get my driver’s licence.
Source: Brisbane Times.