May 11, 2005

In the Skies over Washington D.C.

A General Aviation aircraft that flew into restricted airspace today was the cause of an evacuation of the U.S. Capitol and White House. Military F-16 fighter aircraft intercepted the Cessna 150 and fired four warning flares. That surely got the pilots attention and will likely require them to make a dry cleaning run. From there Cessna was escorted to Fredrick Municipal Airport were the two pilots were taken into custody.

One of the two pilots was a student pilot. According to the Chicago tribune the Student Pilots wife stated "Troy was discussing with me last night after they made their flight plans all about the no-fly zones and how they were going to avoid them. He said they were going to fly between two different restricted areas."

I would imagine that these pilots may be grounded for a long time if not permanently.

Posted by at May 11, 2005 8:12 PM

Hi Todd,

Would they really hold the student pilot responsible? Would they give a break to greener student pilots? Is there any sort of "court" for FAA rule violations?

Posted by: Similate at May 11, 2005 10:39 PM

I posted my own thoughts on this one over at my own blog, the summary of which is:

1) you gotta seriously not be paying attention as a responsible GA pilot to mess up to this degree

2) the government might be taking some of these incursions a little *too* seriously. i suppose you've got it coming if your plane gets that close, but a Cessna 150 just isn't the first, best choice in the Al Qaeda playbook, I'm fairly sure. Common sense in Homeland Security is a non-starter.

The impact for Chicago pilots? Aviation's steadfast ally, our own Mayor Daley, now wants an ADIZ for Chicago: He's wanted a permanent TFR ever since he learned that Disneyland has one ("If Mickey Mouse can have a no-fly zone, the city of Chicago should too"). Wouldn't that be swell?

Posted by: matt Shobe at May 12, 2005 3:31 PM

Hey Todd - word is that the "Student" had about 30-hrs & I would guess was PIC doing a cross-country thing. Haven't read anywhere if a flight plan was filed - knowing about a filed & active flight plan would be a really interesting discussion relative to "how close" our government friends came to shooting 'em down if type, tail #'s & names were on file..

For sure he's going to get a suspension, but most likely only 3-4 mths. He'll get hit with violating restricted air space. Hopefully he won't get tagged for flying in Class B (any CFI worth his weight would have endorsed the studen't log book before they hit the ground); flying in formation (those F-16's for sure were close) without approval; or failing to maintain communication in the restricted zone (& here we finally saw the truly experienced CFI shine ... broken radio ...) - one could only hope that he (the CFI) had the presence of mind to get the squawk turned to 7600 before landing, turn the radio on & off repeatedly, & run through every other classic trick CFI's have used for ages when they get busted violating airspace (& come on folks, for anyone whose spent any time around busy airspace, we've all been there & we've all done that ...).

This said, having to "please call the center after landing" is a bit less dramatic than getiting tossed to the tarmac & handcuffed in front of 6.5 billon TV watchers - at least they didn't make the student grab the towbar & drag the thing to the hanger. (By the way, anyone know if bomb-sniffing dogs pee on aircraft tires too?)

Realtive to the CFI, it's going to be very interesting to see how a gaggle of FAA attorneys interpret FAR's relative to cross-country navigation, situational awareness & flying with broken stuff (oh those pesky radios ...). At the very least we're going to see this guy's rating pulled for 6-mths.

Lastly, now that TSA has horned in on FAA pilot certification, our fearless Homeland security gang is going to have a whole lot to say about all this. Without a dobt, someone will end up loosing more than just their license for 6-mths - TSA'll probably flag these guys for "step over there & put your arms up ..." checks everytime they go through a metal detector ... for the rest of their lives ...

In the end, anyone I know that's ever flown VFR & navigated by landscape has gotten lost, flown somewhere they shouldn't have, used out-of-date sectionals, and learned how to never do that again. Unfortunately for these two Mt Dew boys, they just did it in front of the world!


Posted by: E Ray at May 12, 2005 9:31 PM