The Washington Post

Sen. Inhofe wants pilots’ rights

Private pilot Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), despite getting a bare slap on the wrist — rather than a license suspension — for landing his Cessna 340 last fall on a closed runway at a small South Texas airport and scaring the daylights out of workers doing maintenence there, has instead blasted the Federal Aviation Administration for “agency overreach.”

After the incident, the FAA ordered what Inhofe told us in February was some “painless” remedial training in lieu of any enforcement action. Inhofe praised the FAA and said “I could not have been treated better” by the agency.

The senator insisted, however, that he did nothing wrong and said he would introduce legislation to give pilots greater rights.

And this week, he did so, introducing the Pilots’ Bill of Rights. “I was never fully appreciative of the feeling of desperation until it happened to me,” Inhofe said, according to the Tulsa World.

The bill provides, among other things, that pilots be able to appeal all FAA enforcement actions directly to federal district court and that the FAA turn over “all relevant evidence 30 days prior to a decision to proceed with an enforcement action.”

“If a person is going to be accused of something, he has to know what he is being accused of,” Inhofe said.

Well, as we reported in October, it was pretty clear what Inhofe, 76, was accused of, to wit: ignoring huge (60-feet long by ten-feet wide) yellow Xs on the airport runway showing it was closed, as well as trucks and workmen painting and doing general maintenance on the runway as he zipped over and by them.

A recorded call to the FAA from the crew’s supervisor said Inhofe “sky hopped” over the men and truck and “scared the crap out of us.” Inhofe told the Tulsa World that part of the reason for his pilots’ rights legislation was the difficulty he had getting the audiotapes of that call.

But Inhofe didn’t use that same runway upon departing South Texas. He allegedly didn’t use any runway but chose instead a taxiway, which we were told at the time was also frowned upon.

Read more from PostPolitics

Sen. Inhofe is not an X-man

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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