August 2, 1996 in City

Pilot Pleads Innocent To False Distress Call

From Staff And Wire Reports

A Bellevue pilot who vanished after ditching his plane in Elliott Bay pleaded innocent in federal court Thursday to transmitting a false distress call.

David Peter Novak, 34, was scheduled for trial Sept. 23 before U.S. District Judge Carolyn Dimmick. A hearing on motions is set for Aug. 22.

Novak radioed the Boeing Field control tower on May 31 that his Piper Cherokee had lost power. The Coast Guard and other agencies conducted an extensive search of Puget Sound, but the plane was never found.

Novak apparently swam to shore. He later surfaced in Hawaii, and surrendered to U.S. marshals in Seattle in June.

He is accused of causing the Coast Guard to attempt to save life and property, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a $5,000 civil penalty.

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