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US Airways passenger Flight 4343 was on its way to the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport when a rapid descent caused the flight attendant to look out the window.

What she saw was scary. The plane was low, and it was going fast.

"My brain went into emergency/evacuation mode," flight attendant Charlene Helgason said, according to a record of her phone interview with Federal Aviation Administration officials.

She didn't know that the pilot-in-command, Edmund Draper, had purposely lowered the plane in order to fly over his home, according to FAA documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md.

His Zion Road home is near The Centre at Salisbury shopping mall, which was still open for holiday shopping during the late-night hours of Dec. 21, 2012, according to records outlining the FAA's investigation.

About 24 passengers were aboard the DHC-8-102 aircraft heading from Philadelphia to the Wicomico airport, along with two fellow members of the flight crew.

The FAA documents say the plane was operated with "reckless disregard for safety ... at an excessive speed and dangerously low altitude when not necessary for landing." The FAA determination, addressed to the pilot, contends his actions "endangered the lives of your passengers, fellow crewmembers and people and property at The Centre at Salisbury Mall. You have demonstrated that you are unable or unwilling to comply with basic regulatory requirements."

EMERGENCY ORDER

Draper's airline transport pilot certificate number was revoked June 19, 2013, with an emergency order of revocation from the FAA. The order alleges that Draper violated federal aviation regulations, including flying an aircraft over a "congested area" below 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle. The records indicate the plane flew about 500 feet above the mall.

The order stated that Draper wouldn't be allowed to apply for a new pilot certificate nor be issued one for a year. Pilots in Draper's position have an opportunity to appeal the case. The FAA said the pilot initially planned to appeal but did not. He was eligible to apply for his certificate again in January and apparently did.

Draper, now 38, does have his airline transport pilot certificate back. According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, his airline transport pilot certificate was issued Feb. 25. Draper also has a flight instructor certificate, issued Feb. 26, according to the registry.

Draper didn't appear to have a current listed phone number, and a reporter was told that the Air Line Pilots Association, per its policy, does not comment on ongoing investigations. The Air Line Pilots Association is a large pilot union.

Jackie Jennings, spokeswoman for Piedmont Airlines, said Dec. 21, 2012, was Draper's last day flying for Piedmont, and he is no longer employed there. Documents provided by the aviation administration indicate he had been employed there since 2000.

'DRAPER ONE ARRIVAL'

First Officer Neil Hoy was the co-pilot on Flight 4343 on Dec. 21, 2012. He was new to Piedmont, hired in March 2012.

"Everyone Knows about the Draper One Arrival," First Officer Christopher Quillen said, according to a record of his FAA interview. "Ed has a house right off Highway 13 and he likes to fly over his house on the way into Salisbury. I hear he usually does it at 1,500 feet but I hear that on the 21st he did it at around 400 feet. Man, that's crazy being that low, and over the mall, all those people. That's like the busiest day of the year for shopping there."

Quillen shared how Draper wouldn't try to do the Draper One Arrival with more seasoned pilots.

"Ed won't do it against the older guys, only the young guys, they are impressionable and try to fit in," Quillen said, according to the FAA record of the interview. "I have been around and would not put up with that. Ed is very knowledgeable about the systems on the airplane and even writes study guides unofficially, but his leadership and judgment is not good."

It is unclear if Hoy was reprimanded in any way. The FAA advised filing an additional Freedom of Information Act request.

In the case of Draper's Dec. 21, 2012, flight, the EGPWS –– Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System –– alerted "too low gear." An interview with Capt. John Buchanan, included in the FAA documents, revealed information was originally withheld.

Among the findings of a company investigation were notes that the buzzing of the mall was a "deliberate action on the crew's part" and "were buzzing Ed Draper's house and looking out the window," getting low enough to trigger a warning alarm.

DOWNWARD PATH

Two minutes and 45 seconds before the plane was to land at the regional airport, it was flying at a height of about 1,400 feet above ground level. Then, within about a minute, the plane descended to 557 feet above ground level when flying over the mall, and 525 feet above ground level when flying over Draper's home, according to a graph in the FAA documents.

The FAA order notes the plane went as low as about 493 feet before adjusting higher to prepare for landing. As the plane made its descent toward the mall, it was moving at about 281 mph, the documents said.

Justin Saulter, the son of flight attendant Cindy Saulter, was at the mall that night. The plane had taken off from Philadelphia at about 10:51 p.m. and landed in Salisbury at about 11:29 p.m., documents show.

He told FAA investigators he was in the mall parking lot, waiting for his wife, when he saw the plane's lights. He said he called his mom about the low-flying plane, the witness statement reads. He told the FAA that the plane rattled his car windows.

Cindy Saulter told the FAA her son had called to check on her, but she was at home sleeping, according to her statement to investigators. She realized another flight attendant, Charlene Helgason, was expected to be on a flight coming into Salisbury that evening and called her. Cindy Saulter said it was the fear she could tell Helgason was feeling that led her to report what happened.

'THIS IS NEGLIGENCE'

Capt. Ross Aimer, a retired United Airlines captain and the CEO of Los Angeles-based Aero Consulting Experts, said he has heard of pilots flying over someone's home –– maybe a pilot who wants to go over the home of a girlfriend or a friend.

"This usually happens when the pilot is new and inexperienced and perhaps young," Aimer said. "I would say it's very, very rare that a seasoned commercial pilot would do something like that."

According to Helgason, passengers on Flight 4343, who were reading or sleeping, didn't seem to notice any problem. The incident made Helgason not want to go on a flight with Draper again.

"I didn't know what was going on then, but now that I do know, I'm furious," she said, according to her FAA interview. "I will never fly a trip with him (Draper) again. I feel that I didn't sign up for this, the passengers didn't sign up for this. I'm doing my job in the back and they are running an air show up front. Other people are coming out about it now. ... It's called the 'Draper 1 Approach.'"

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