Senator Jim Inhofe is a proud and bold man. He's the kind of man who maintains a commercial pilot's license so he can fly himself to campaign events. He's the kind of man who will ride his own horse in an annual end-of-the-year parade in Tulsa (until the day when, to encourage more children to feel included, they change the event's name from "Christmas Parade of Lights" to "Holiday Parade of Lights," of course, in which case he'll proudly and boldly boycott it). He's the kind of man who not only voted against prohibiting "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of U.S. government prisoners, but proclaimed himself to be "outraged by the outrage" over the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. So what does this kind of man do when he wants to land his plane, and he's confronted by a runway that he knows to be closed, is marked with a giant yellow "X," and has airport employees scattered along it working?
According to audiotapes just released by the FAA, Inhofe was confronted with exactly that situation last year. And instead of obeying orders from the tower, he landed on the closed runway, even though it was full of people. From the always awesome Smoking Gun:
Shortly after Inhofe landed, Sidney Boyd, who was supervising construction on closed runway, called the FAA to report that Inhofe’s plane, a twin-engine six-seater, initially touched down on the runway and then “'sky hopped' over the six vehicles and personnel working on the runway, and then landed.” During the call, which was recorded by the FAA, Boyd said Inhofe’s antics “scared the crap out of” workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a red truck. Referring to the vehicle’s driver, Boyd added, “I think he actually wet his britches, he was scared to death. 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 that Inhofe showed little contrition following the close call. “He come over here and started being like, 'What the hell is this I was supposed to have unlimited airspace.'”
Now that is both
arrogant proud and foolhardy bold. "I've got over 50 years flying, three tours of Vietnam," airport manager Marshall Reece can be heard telling the FAA on the tapes. "I can assure you I have never seen such a reckless disregard for human life in my life ... Something needs to be done. This guy is famous for these violations." According to the FAA, Inhofe quietly agreed to "complete a program of remedial training" in order to avoid losing his pilot's license. And, you know, to avoid getting arrested for almost killing a bunch of people just because he didn't want to have to do another loop in the air.
Inhofe "Scared The Crap Out Of" Airport Workers [Smoking Gun]