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Apparently, disgraced CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin isn’t the only one who enjoys pulling it out while at work.
Meet Michael Haak, a 60-year-old now-retired Southwest Airlines pilot who last August exposed his junk to his female first officer and watched pornography on his laptop while the two piloted a flight from Philadelphia to Florida.
To be clear, he didn’t allegedly do these things — he absolutely did them, which is why he issued a remote-courtroom apology last week while being sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and $5,000 fine, as reported by the Associated Press.
Yet he didn’t actually sound remorseful.
“It started as a consensual prank between me and the other pilot. I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years,” he said during last week’s hearing.
But what federal prosecutors had to say about the matter suggests otherwise.
— US Attorney Maryland (@USAO_MD) May 28, 2021
“Haak was assisted by a female First Officer who Haak had never met prior to that flight,” according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
It’s not clear that consensual pranks are ever carried out between people who just met.
“Haak admitted that, after the aircraft had achieved cruising altitude, Haak got out of the pilot’s seat, and while still in the cockpit of the plane, intentionally disrobed and viewed pornographic media on a laptop computer,” the press release continues.
“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.”
It’s also not clear why the unnamed first officer said nothing at the time. What’s known is that she now claims she’s been traumatized by the event.
“The first officer submitted a statement to the court but didn’t speak during Friday’s hearing. The judge told Haak that his actions had a traumatic effect on the co-pilot and could have impacted the safety of passengers and other co-workers,” the AP reported.
“This is not the kind of aberrant behavior that anyone should accept. She had a right not to be subjected to this kind of behavior, regardless of what may have motivated it or prompted it,” prosecuting attorney Michael Cunningham reportedly added.
Strangely, he also reportedly said that the first officer had “unfortunately suffered some consequences” from the incident that “didn’t have anything to do with” Haak.
This seems to suggest that she was disciplined by Southwest Airlines over the matter — perhaps because she had indeed given “consent?”
As for Haak, he voluntarily retired three weeks after the incident occurred, at which time he received “supportive letters from passengers and colleagues, including one from Southwest chairman and CEO Gary Kelly,” according to the AP.
He wasn’t formally charged until last month.
“Haak was charged in April with intentionally committing a lewd, indecent or obscene act in a public place, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail. He was charged in Maryland because it was one of the states that the aircraft passed over that day,” the AP reported.
Because of a “sterling,” decades-long career full of “accolades,” he was given a break via both his relatively light sentence and also a waiver of the usual requirement that he register as as a sex offender.
However, he was not given a break by the airline itself.
“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),” a spokesperson told the AP.
This whole incident isn’t likely to help the airline’s reputation, which is already under fire for the draconian way in which it’s been enforcing coronavirus mask rules.
Earlier this month, a Southwest flight attendant booted a family from a flight after the parents informed them that, because of their 3-year-old son’s disability, he might have difficulties with his mask — which, to be clear, he’d been wearing at the time.
This is when you know federal law has gone too far.
Let’s rescind this requirement and stop letting companies hide behind an overreaching law that allows kids to be kicked off of flights. https://t.co/wGafkf8NYM
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) May 7, 2021
A couple days after this incident, another Southwest flight attendant booted another family off their flight because their 5-year-old son had trouble with his mask.
Dr. Vince Hassel, a fellow passenger who witnessed the whole ordeal and reportedly tried lobbying the airline on the family’s behalf, was horrified.
“They weren’t going to let the kid on the plane if he didn’t put his mask on. He just wasn’t having it and throwing a fit. Just to watch this play out was absolutely horrible,” he told Des Moines station KCCI at the time.
From captains who pull it out to flight attendants who go after families with disabled children, Southwest Airlines doesn’t seem to be having a very good year.
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