Riggs grew up in the Kansas City area in the 1970s and 1980s and perpetrated a number of scams around town before hightailing it to places beyond, almost always leaving behind scorned investors in any number of failed businesses that Riggs dreamt up. Those con jobs ranged from running a commercial jingle shop, which he tried to take public in the 1980s before regulators clamped down on him, to bizarre forays into B-list Hollywood film productions.
Some of these deals and others were described in a lengthy feature in The Pitch published in March.
Through it all, Riggs maintained a passion for aviation. A pilot of limited skill, Riggs several times flouted federal aviation regulations.
One of these instances occurred in 2012, when he sold flights to passengers in private aircrafts for what amounted to joyrides in the sky. On May 18, 2012, Riggs arranged for one of these trips over the skies of Nevada. Riggs flew one plane while another pilot maneuvered the other. The plane not carrying Riggs crashed, killing the pilot and the paying passenger onboard.
That plane was owned by the Nazarene Aviation Fellowship in Overland Park. The group is listed as a nonprofit with the Internal Revenue Service. According to a 2006 tax filing, the fellowship lists barely any assets. It's difficult to tell why the fellowship has a tax exemption beyond its purported association with the Nazarene Church.
Its Overland Park address matches the office of an insurance agent named Jerry Brockhaus, who is a signatory on that 2006 IRS filing for the Nazarene Aviation Fellowship.
The FAA proposed a $66,000 fine against the fellowship, claiming that it allowed its plane to carry passengers for hire, allowing the same plane to be flown recklessly and charging passengers for rides aboard experimental airplanes. In this case, Riggs arranged for the flights aboard an experimental Eastern Bloc trainer jet that later became a niche favorite among aviation enthusiasts.
The 2012 disaster in Nevada caused Riggs to lose his aviation license. Other investigators who tracked Riggs over the years told The Pitch
earlier this year that they wonder why it took so long for regulators to finally take his license. Riggs was involved in another plane crash in 2006 that killed two other passengers in California. During that flight, as with the 2012 crash, Riggs flew a different jet that day while he was filming the other jet's maneuvers for an action movie called Succubus: Hell Bent,
which got released the following year.
Riggs also frustrated Southern California authorities in 2008 when he buzzed visitors standing on the Santa Monica pier with a small jet, in a stunt meant to drum up publicity for another low-budget film that he was hawking. Riggs escaped meaningful punishment for that transgression.
The license revocation didn't keep Riggs out of the sky. Rather, it was a crash last year in China during a trial run for an airplane show that did him in. Riggs died in the crash, along with a teenage Chinese translator onboard during the flight.
Brockhaus was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.
An obscure nonprofit in Overland Park is the subject of a proposed fine by the Federal Aviation Administration for its role in a 2012 plane crash involving David Riggs, one of the more outlandish con men in Kansas City's history.