In April 2011 it was announced that David G. Riggs would be flying in the Camarillo Air Show. As a member of the Southern California Aviation community I was appalled that someone who had his pilot certificate revoked for a year, and was still on probation for a criminal charge for buzzing the Santa Monica Pier in a military jet (L-39 Albatross) would be invited to participate in something like a community air show. With knowledge of some of the other questionable activities David G. Riggs had been involved in it seemed inconceivable that this would be one of the people representing aviation and pilots at a publicly attended air show.
So began AviationCriminal.com. Since that time, the Webmaster (myself) has dealt with numerous threats, harassment, a law suit (still pending) and been witness to many events and conversations with others who have been victimized by David G. Riggs.
Some of those stories have been told on this site. Some, out of fear of future lawsuits or just a desire to be done with Riggs forever, asked me not to share the stories publicly but wanted to finally be able to tell someone. I have honored every one of those requests.
As investigations began and I dug deeper into who David G. Riggs is the surprises, and depth of his criminal history was, for lack of a better description, disturbing and downright scary.
Tracing all the way back to the beginning and finding out that Riggs’ criminal career dated back to 1980 when he was arrested (as a teenager) for robbing a Ramada Inn motel. During his arrest the police discovered that Riggs had several fraudulently obtained credit cards and drivers licenses on his person as well. Quickly climbing the criminal ladder, shoplifting and an insurance fraud scheme were added to his rap sheet. Then Riggs joined the big leagues with his Mokan Productions company scam in Kansas City. In 1987 he was charged with securities fraud in relation to Mokan.
Riggs, rather than face prosecution, fled the country, globe-hopping to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. While on the run he obtained passports in the names of other people, one of whom died only days prior to Riggs using his name. In South Africa Riggs got involved in a plot to murder two people, steal poached rhino horns and smuggle the contraband into Hong Kong where he was arrested for traveling on one of the fake passports. This completely obliterated an investigation being done by the South African authorities who knew about the murder plot and were going to arrest him. A book about that story (Contraband: South Africa and the International Trade in Ivory and Rhino Horn) was published in 1995 detailing the exploits of Riggs. It is slated to be republished sometime in late 2012.
After spending a year behind bars (men’s detention) in Hong Kong, Riggs was extradited back to the United States to stand trial for the charges that were pending in Kansas. From a 20 count indictment, he managed to plea-bargain and pled guilty to one count of bank fraud, one count of wire fraud and a count of passport fraud. Riggs was sentenced to 10 years, given credit for the time he spent in Hong Kong and the pre-sentencing time he spent in Leavenworth and ultimately, served approximately another 3 in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary and Seagoville prison (Texas).
When he was released from prison Riggs headed for Atlanta, Georgia and then Tampa, Florida, leaving behind a trail of bad accounts and bad feelings before ending up in Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles Riggs started working in the editing business before moving into the film industry. He partnered with a successful visual arts professional and still lays claim to Emmys and other awards that were actually won by his ex-partner and her company. When that relationship ended (badly) he left his former partner in dire financial straits and with her career in ashes. Riggs also allegedly defrauded a group of movie investors (multiple court cases still pending) who became involved with Riggs’ feature film production debacle. Two pilots died while under Riggs’ direction during the filming of a flight sequence as part of the movie, Succubus Hell-Bent. While executing a blind maneuver, requested by Riggs, the L-39 crashed into a mountain top. Only one movie reached completion while he was still involved but not without major drama. Kill Speed, was re-tooled, completed and released but only after years of litigation that damaged it tremendously before it ever saw the light of day. Another film project, Kerosene Cowboys aka Red Sky, is seeing its fair share of litigation and remains uncompleted.
In 2010 Riggs traveled to China to fly in a fake race at an airshow with 2 other American pilots. Before that trip was over, the promoter cut off all financial assistance (hotel, food, etc) to the pilots and severed ties with Riggs. After returning home he was sued for not paying one of the pilots for damages to his plane incurred in China and for defamation, resulting in a judgment against him and Mach One Aviation in the amount of $29,000 as well as $5400 for legal fees. Another incident and legal action involving a hot air balloon that Riggs refused to return to the rightful owner (and was in Riggs’ possession) unless Riggs was paid what its owner alleged, was nothing more than a ransom, also arose from that same bogus race trip to China.
And then came the Ultimate Air Race Championship (UARC) an ill-advised and highly dangerous air race that Riggs attempted to stage at Camarillo’s 2011 air show. With pilots whom some felt were not qualified to do the flights they were promoting, as well as questions as to the safety and maintenance of Riggs’ own plane, questions were asked both at AviationCriminal.com and other news sites. Riggs used the airshow in China to tout the “American debut” of the UARC, although the name UARC had never been mentioned during the trip to China and it was, as stated, not an actual air race. The website for the Camarillo Air Show was advertising for months that they had received all necessary FAA waivers when they actually had not. Mass media promotion went into the show, including an appearance on a local Los Angeles morning show touting the race that was never meant to be. There’s been no public report on how much money Wings Over Camarillo may have lost in that nightmare, but the monetary loss and embarrassment probably wasn’t minor.
Riggs spent quite a bit of time and effort to discover who was doing this website and when he did finally get a name and address, he instructed the members of his team as well as at least one member of the Camarillo Air Show to email and threaten the “Webmaster.” Only 3 of his cohorts took Riggs up on that plan.
With all of the challenges of the air show going on Riggs was also dealing with bankruptcy filings for himself, his company, Mach I Aviation, Afterburner Films, Inc. and Kerosene Cowboys, Inc. Questions have been raised about the transfer of ownership of some of his assets (including the L-39 involved in the Santa Monica incident) to different entities just prior to his bankruptcy filings. It also came to light that an airplane belonging to another investor in one of Riggs’ failed businesses had suddenly shown up in his company’s name and was listed as an asset of Mach I Aviation and was to be liquidated by the bankruptcy Trustee until a lawsuit was filed. The trial is set to commence in bankruptcy court shortly.
Riggs was also appealing (and losing) his conviction for the Santa Monica flight. This resulted in a short jail stay when he was cited for a probation violation for not doing the community labor cleaning Santa Monica beach.
Eventually the FAA announced that they would not be giving the waivers necessary for the UARC to perform the race they had proposed. Riggs and the pilots involved with him were given an alternate option of doing a straight fly by. Come show day (weekend) Riggs’ plane never left the ground. It was later reported that he said he had a mechanical problem with the plane.
The webmaster of AviationCriminal.com and friends were almost refused entry to the Camarillo Air Show, were harassed throughout the weekend, had the cops called on them at least twice (with no action resulting). One friend was physically assaulted resulting in an injury. Litigation for that episode is also pending.
AviationCriminal.com is currently being sued, in Nevada, by Mach One Aviation as a result of its reporting. The site has been accused of being the sole reason the UARC air race during the Camarillo Air Show failed.
In addition to all of this and more, Dave Riggs was flying, for years, what appear to be illegal flights for hire in L-39 aircraft. This was reported by multiple people to the FAA who never saw fit to do anything about it. In 2012, a pilot and passenger were killed in Boulder City Nevada while doing a paid flight arranged by the Riggs controlled company, Mach One Aviation, and Florida based Incredible Adventures. Riggs was in an experimental (L-39) plane flying in formation with the other that crashed. That investigation is ongoing.
So we are a year and 100,000 hits into this and have to ask. What’s changed? Not much to be honest.
The Camarillo Air Show 2012 is coming up soon. I don’t think there will be an appearance by Mr. Riggs this year. I imagine I can attend it without being accosted by the Air Show volunteers or the police. But that’s about the only thing I see that’s different.
Riggs is STILL dealing with the consequences of the Santa Monica incident, as he has yet to complete the community labor he was sentenced to. Once again, the courts gave him another year to finish it.
He is still, even after the deaths of 2 people, advertising flights for hire at Incredible Adventures. The FAA and NTSB continue that investigation but it’s unknown what the ramifications of that will be both for Riggs, and for the FAA who blatantly ignored the reports, warnings and pleas that were sent to them regarding those flights.
Lawsuits with movies investors, the bankruptcy court and other are still grinding their way through the system.
He still has a multitude of sites online purporting to be one of the most successful movie/aviation guys in the history of the world. With little to no observable proof of the claims. He often blatantly lies (stating he’s a college graduate is one of the more minor untruths). Often managing to tag himself on to the awards and achievements of others through some flimsy connections between himself or his company (Mach One and Afterburner Jets).
One of the more obvious lies is the following which comes from his site daveriggspilot.com
With more than 30 years of flying experience and dozens of Hollywood Movies and Television shows to his credit, Dave Riggs has brought aviation to the theaters and living rooms of more people than nearly any pilot in the world.
You can check his IMDB page to verify the UNTRUTH of that sentence.
Those who know the truth, know that HE has not actually flown in even half of the shows he purports to have and I’ve only been able to verify 2 or 3. Perhaps his planes have and in at least one incidence it was prior to him actually even owning the plane.
So, while the internet continues to give him the ability to post whatever yarn of fantasy he wants, to try to reel in more investors (victims), to take advantage of others, and to endanger the lives of an unsuspecting public, I continue to stand strong and try to get the word and warning out there.
Will I have to be here long enough to get 200,000 hits before someone finally does something to stop this guy?
FAA, NTSB, FBI, DOJ, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, CIA, someone, please stand up and hold this guy accountable for the lives he has destroyed.
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