Pilot Sen. Inhofe Flies into FAA Trouble

Thursday, 14 Apr 2011 11:08 AM

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A senior Senator deliberately landed his private plane on a closed airport runway “scaring the crap” out of workers there, according to newly released documents.

inhofe, faa, troubleSen. James Inhofe touched down and then “sky-hopped” over six vehicles and a crew working on the runway, according to the report released under a Freedom of Information request from the website The Smoking Gun.

Inhofe, 76, a third term Republican from Oklahoma, agreed to complete a remedial training program rather than face charges, the documents reveal. In a January 4 certified letter to Inhofe, FAA aviation safety inspector Robert O’Keefe said “the matter will be expunged” after two years.

The senator, a licensed commercial pilot, was landing his twin-engine, six-seater Cessna C340 at Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport in southeast Texas on October 21 last year. The main runway was shut down for repairs and had a large “X” on it. Inhofe was aware it was closed according to an FAA investigation.

“When pilot did notice the “X” panel on the threshold of the runway on short final, he still elected to land avoiding the men and equipment on the runway,” says the FAA’s “pilot deviation report.”

Sidney Boyd, construction supervisor on the closed runway, called the FAA to report the incident. During the call, which was recorded by the agency, Boyd said Inhofe had “scared the crap out of” the workers and the plane had “damn near hit” a truck.

“I think (the truck driver) actually wet his britches, he was scared to death,” said Boyd. “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 it “was not the first time this kind of thing had happened.” and the inspector reported that both Boyd and airport manager Marshall Reece “were familiar with” Inhofe’s plane.

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