The House Monday night passed Sen. Jim Inhofe’s Pilot’s Bill of Rights, a measure that would make it easier for pilots facing disciplinary action by the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain the evidence against them, sending it to President Obama to be signed.
The bill, dubbed by one wag as “The Inhofe Revenge Bill,” was sparked by an October 2010 incident in which the Oklahoma Republican, a private pilot, landed his Cessna 340 on a closed runway at a small South Texas airport — scaring the daylights out of workers doing maintenance.
A recorded call to the FAA from the crew’s supervisor said Inhofe “sky-hopped” over the men and trucks and “scared the crap out of us.” (The call is really worth listening to. Click the play button below to listen — hat tip to our Interactivity Guru Matt DeLong.)
There were huge (60 feet long by 10 feet wide) yellow X’s on the runway showing that it was closed.
The FAA in January 2011 barely gave Inhofe a slap on the wrist — let alone a license suspension — and ordered what he called some “painless” remedial training in lieu of any enforcement action. He praised the FAA, and said, “I could not have been treated better” by the agency.
Even so, Inhofe told us last February that he would introduce a bill to give pilots greater rights. “If a person is going to be accused of something,” he said, “he has to know what he’s being accused of.” (The Senate has already passed the bill.)
“I was never appreciative of the feeling of desperation,” Inhofe said, “until it happened to me.”
Think how desperate those workers on the runway that day must have felt.