Sentaor Inhofe’s Poor Piloting Judgement

Reading this over at AVWeb make my blood boil.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) says he won’t guarantee he’ll be more vigilant about checking NOTAMs after he landed on a closed runway occupied by maintenance workers ten days ago in Texas. “People who fly a lot just don’t do it,” Inhofe told the Tulsa World. “I won’t make any commitments.” Inhofe added that while “technically” pilots should “probably” check NOTAMs, it would be impractical for him to do so on the many flights he makes to small airports in Oklahoma each year. The FAA has confirmed it is investigating the Oct 21 incident in which Inhofe landed a Cessna 340 on an occupied closed runway at Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport, Texas, He was reportedly carrying three others in the light twin when he made the landing on a runway bearing oversized painted Xs, a large red truck, other vehicles, and construction workers. The workers were using loud equipment at the time and didn’t hear the plane’s approach, so one person ran to warn them. A supervisor immediately reported the incident to the FAA and told he was “still shaking” when he reached the hangar to confront the pilot. For his part, Inhofe said he didn’t see the Xs until late on final and was concerned he might not be able to abort safely. He said he landed “well off to the side” of the workers.


That’s just nuts. Not only is he telling us that he’s knowingly violating the law and ditching his responsibility as a pilot (checking NOTAMs), he’s telling us that he didn’t even bother to look at the runway before landing on it (he missed the X marks, large red truck, and people). And when he did finally see them, he was worried that he couldn’t safely go around.

Dear god, I hope I never have to share the sky with this sad excuse for a pilot. And I’d certainly never want to fly with him.

I’d be ashamed if I had been his instructor.

Update: As of Feb 2011, it looks like he got some remedial training. I hope it helps!

About Jeremy Zawodny

I'm a software engineer and pilot. I work at craigslist by day, hacking on various bits of back-end software and data systems. As a pilot, I fly Glastar N97BM, Just AirCraft SuperSTOL N119AM, Bonanza N200TE, and high performance gliders in the northern California and Nevada area. I'm also the original author of "High Performance MySQL" published by O'Reilly Media. I still speak at conferences and user groups on occasion.
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6 Responses to Sentaor Inhofe’s Poor Piloting Judgement

  1. Nelson says:

    It’s a pretty astonishing story, huh? Here’s the NOTAM he didn’t bother to get.
    !PIL 10/005 PIL RWY 13/31 CLSD

  2. BCS says:

    If I were involved in the investigation (and if that report is accurate), I’d recommend in the strongest available way that the fool’s licence be revoked ASAP.

  3. Jay Buffington says:

    Haha, and then he had the nerve to take off from a closed airport using the taxi way:

    “A few days after his unorthodox arrival, Inhofe Saturday notified “an airport official” of his intent and used a taxiway for departure, according to The Washington Post. “

  4. internet-guy says:

    If they can give a license to this guy, it means there are a lot of pilots like him. I will think twice next time I’ll have to take a plane….

  5. James B. says:

    Sen. Inhofe appears to have made some serious mistakes, but the discussion comments also have a few errors.

    First of all, the airport wasn’t closed, a runway was. If the airport was closed, then the NOTAM would have said so.

    Second, light aircraft land and takeoff on taxiways all the time. Just ask a tailwheel pilot.

    Third, the NOTAM and airport advisory system is confusing by design, which is what Sen. Inhofe was alluding to. Unless you specifically request each category of NOTAM (L, D and FDC published and unpublished, plus airport advisories and local procedures) and also call the airport operator, you will not receive 100% of the notices. I’ve never done that. Have you?

    But yes, landing a light twin on the X with pax is inexcusable.

  6. Bryan says:

    Nevermind the fact that if he governs as badly as he flies, then I feel really bad for his constituents.

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