A West Coast microlight pilot has been fined and temporarily banned from flying after "buzzing" a couple on a Barrytown beach.
William Alan Weir admitted he flew extremely close to Roger and Janette Reid to scare them in February, Christchurch Court News reports.
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Weir saw the couple on the beach and made a spur of the moment decision to fly close to them, passing just five metres above their heads.
He pleaded guilty to flying "in a manner causing unnecessary endangerment" and was sentenced to a six-month ban from flying and a $4500 fine.
The judge said his actions weren't justified and the incident could have ended very badly for those involved.
"Any margin for error was practically non-existent. There was a potential for tragic circumstances to occur," the Judge Stephen O'Driscoll said. He also said it was clear the couple would have been terrified by the incident.
Members of the community had disagreed with Mr and Ms Reid's decision to complain to the authorities about the incident, but the court said it was justified.
Judge O'Driscoll authorised the release of an image Mr Reid took of the incident to show the public just how close the plane was.
Mr Reid told Christchurch Court News he wasn't sure why Weir did it.