Southwest pilot gets probation for watching porn mid-flight, exposing genitals

Michael Haak expressed remorse for the lewd “prank” on an Orlando-bound flight last August which left a female first officer traumatized.

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Southwest Airlines, Boeing 737-76Q
Retired pilot Michael Haak was ordered to serve a one-year probation and pay a $5,000 fine for the lewd "prank"
(Wikimedia Commons)

A Southwest Airlines pilot has been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to watching porn and exposing his genitals to a female first officer during a flight from Philadelphia to Florida.

Michael Haak, 60, apologized and expressed remorse for his actions before US Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson ordered him on Friday to serve one year of unsupervised probation and pay a $5,000 fine.

“It started as a consensual prank between me and the other pilot. I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years,” Haak said during the virtual hearing.

Haak had never met the first officer before the Orlando-bound flight on August 10, 2020, when the incident took place, according to federal prosecutors.

After the plane reached cruising altitude, Haak got out of the pilot’s seat, “disrobed” and began watching pornographic material on a laptop computer in the cockpit, prosecutors said.

“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,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.

The first officer submitted a statement to the court, but did not speak during the hearing.

The judge said the defendant’s actions had traumatized the co-pilot and risked the safety of passengers and other crew members.

Haak “had a duty to comport himself in a much more responsible manner,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Cunningham said.

“This is not the kind of aberrant behavior that anyone should accept,” the prosecutor added.

Haak was charged in April with intentionally committing a lewd, indecent or obscene act in a public place. He pleaded guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.

The pilot, a resident of Longwood, Florida, retired three weeks after the incident, bringing to  a close a 27-year career with the airline.

Defense attorney Michael Salnick said in a court filing that Haak accepts responsibility for his behavior and “offers no excuses.”

But the lawyer argued that his client’s “lifetime of hard work and kindness” made him deserving of a lenient sentence.

“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,” Salnick wrote.

Southwest spokesperson Chris Mainz said in a statement that the airline “does not tolerate behavior of this nature and will take prompt action if such conduct is substantiated.”

“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],” Mainz added.

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GXK
GXK
15 days ago

What a maroon 🤦‍♂️

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