By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
A man living next to the Campbell's Field airstrip in southwestern Blount County has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he shot at a historic airplane there.
Jason Allen McCay, 36, entered the plea in U.S. District Court on Thursday; it was a week before he was scheduled to go to trial. The plea was not part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
McCay was charged with firing his 12-guage shotgun at a 1943 Stearman bi-plane in June. That plane was in the midst of its first test flights after undergoing an extensive restoration by Fred Campbell, who owns the plane and the airstrip. (The airplane is the subject of an article in the just-published fall edition of The North Jefferson News Vision magazine.)
McCay had moved into a house adjacent to the runway only a few weeks before, and had complained to the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies about flights from the small private airport on several occasions. Court documents indicate that in an interview with federal agents, McCay said he fired the shotgun into the ground to scare the pilot and spectators, but that agents saw no evidence that the shots were aimed at the ground.
He was arrested by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in July.
McCay is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10.