TLP: Can't Blame This One on Sleeping Air Traffic Controllers
Maybe if he spent less time obsessing over naked cartoons of Al Gore and the minutiae of bank examination, Jim Inhofe could pay a little more attention to his flying. Airport construction workers probably would appreciate it — and not have to change their Dickies.
The Smoking Gun:
Newly released Federal Aviation Administration documents and audiotapes shed a scary new light on a bizarre incident late last year during which U.S. Senator James Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives as the politician’s plane hopscotched over them and six vehicles.Sounds like every drunk or speeding __________ (mayor, judge, congressman's wife, police chief's son, you-name-it) who gets pulled over by a cop and asks, "Don't you know who I am?" Pitiful.
The FAA material, provided in response to a TSG Freedom of Information Act request, details how Inhofe, 76, chose to land on the main runway at the Cameron County Airport on October 21 despite being aware that it was closed and had a large ‘X’ on its threshold.
The politician, the FAA investigation determined, “still elected to land avoiding the men and the equipment on the runway.” In a bid to avoid “legal enforcement action,” Inhofe, who has a commercial pilot’s license, agreed to “complete a program of remedial training,” according to an FAA letter sent in January to Inhofe, a third-term Republican senator from Oklahoma.
Shortly after Inhofe landed, Sidney Boyd, who was supervising construction on the closed runway, called the FAA to report that Inhofe’s plane, a twin-engine six-seater, initially touched down on the runway and then “'sky hopped' over the six vehicles and personnel working on the runway, and then landed.”
During the call, which was recorded by the FAA, Boyd said Inhofe’s antics “scared the crap out of” workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a red truck. Referring to the vehicle’s driver, Boyd added, “I think he actually wet his britches, he was scared to death. I mean, hell, he started trying to head for the side of the runway. The pilot could see him, or he should have been able to, he was right on him.”
Boyd also said that Inhofe showed little contrition following the close call. “He come over here and started being like, 'What the hell is this? I was supposed to have unlimited airspace.'”
Anyway, Inhofe, who took a four-hour class of remedial flying instruction to atone for the matter, isn't as mouthy now as the airport workers found him to be then. The senator said in a statement that, “This is an old story, and the F.A.A. and I have long considered the matter closed.”
As long as he doesn't try to land at Reagan National Airport.