Senator Inhofe Allowed To Keep License After Landing on Construction Site and Almost Killing Workers

Senator James Inhofe (R, Ok.) has remained the world’s most staunch critic of global warming — refusing even minor concessions on curbing pollution to reduce the danger. He appears to follow the same blind approach to flying. New released documents from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that Inhofe intentionally landed landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport. The move reportedly endangered construction workers who had to scatter from his path as he “hopped” over them and at least six vehicles.

None of this was made public and no criminal charges were brought. That seems highly irregular since the FAA concluded that Inhofe, 76, did it intentionally and saw the giant X painted on the runway.

Inhofe was allowed to “complete a program of remedial training.” Lesson One, do not try to land aircraft on construction sites by hopping over workers and vehicles.

The supervisor at the scene, Sidney Boyd, is recorded as saying the pilot “scared the crap out of” workers and “damn near hit” a red truck. He added, “I think [the truck driver] 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.” What is also most striking is that Boyd describes Inhofe as showing no sense of guilt. Instead, he seemed angry that his path was not cleared: “He come over here and started being like, ‘What the hell is this? I was supposed to have unlimited airspace.’” In a second call, he added “He was determined to land on that runway come hell or high water evidently.” He added, “I’m still shaking…I was in the middle of the runway, I headed for high country.”

A later report from an air traffic controller put it succinctly: “N115 Echo Alpha landed right in the middle of them doing their work on runway 1331 and damn near killed somebody out there.”

Inhofe is quoted as dismissing the matter as “an old story.”

You can listen to the taped recordings on The Smoking Gun.

There was no public apology. No charge. He did not even get a nickname like “Get Off” Inhofe to warn future workers of his tendency have workers flee from his path.

For environmentalists, the temptation is a bit too great to argue that Inhofe flys the way he legislates: expecting God to make the controls. After calling global warming the “greatest hoax” in history, Inhofe added:

INHOFE: I think I was right on that, and I do believe — first off, let’s keep in mind, though, what the issue is. It’s not whether or not we’re going into a global warming period. We were. We’re not now. . . . You know, God’s still up there. We’re now going through a cooling spell. And the whole issue there was is it man-made gases, anthropogenic gases, CO2, methane. I don’t think so.

It appears you can also close your eyes as a pilot and just hop around obstacles.

Source: Smoking Gun as first seen on Reddit

62 thoughts on “Senator Inhofe Allowed To Keep License After Landing on Construction Site and Almost Killing Workers

  1. There are important people and there are unimportant people?

    Unimportant people are not to bother important people?

    Those unimportant workers should be jailed for bothering an important person by wrongully being on that runway when the important person needed it?

  2. Isn’t this how the Nazis concluded that they owned the airspace? What was the Geneals name that fled to the UK?

    76 and flying…. Was he drinking?

  3. All FAA actions are under administrative law. The FAA does not prosecute criminal cases. Only if a crime has been committed under some statute is a case referred to either the US Attorney or local prosecutor. General aviation rules fall under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). All violations of Part 91 are handled under administrative law procedures.

    Scaring the pants off a ground crew falls under the heading of Not A Good Thing, but unless some specific criminal statute has been violated, there is no criminal proceeding possible.

    When a runway is closed, they paint a giant “X” on each end of the runway. Sometimes instead of painting it on the runway, if the closure is temporary, a huge lighted “x” sign on the back of a truck or trailer is parked at the end of the runway facing incoming traffic. Those are somewhat similar to the ones we see directing traffic around construction sites on the highway, just a lot bigger. These symbols, whether painted or upright lighted signs, are impossible to miss.

    Inhofe is a former Naval aviator and holds a commercial pilot’s license. He has had top-notch training as a pilot and knows very well the meaning of a closed runway sign. You do not just hop over vehicles on the runway and land further down. The plane he was flying, as Cessna 340, is a twin engine airplane that is easy to fly. He did this deliberately.

    As an administrative action, the FAA had three options: 1. revocation of license; 2. suspension of license for a specified time, usually 90 days; 3. ordering mandatory retraining with a Certified Flight Instructor. If the third option is exercised, at the end of the mandated instruction time the CFI will make a recommendation for further action by the FAA if warranted.

    To give you a better idea of the “sight picture’ Inhofe was seeing, the short video below is a normal landing under VFR conditions in a Cessna 340, identical to the one Inhofe was flying. This pilot is landing on a runway that has an overrun, which is the section marked by the arrowheads. It is a violation to land on an overrun except in emergency conditions. The legal landing zone begins with the strip painted across the runway. The pilot in the video lands a ‘squeaker’ right on the numbers and is an excellent landing. Had he seen a big “X” where the numbers are supposed to be, all he had to do is grab a handful of engine control levers, shove them to the firewall and go around.

  4. Rudolf Hess, AY. His official title was “Deputy to the Fuhrer.” I’m not sure if his rank was General though. Probably was.

  5. First transmission (between FAA and worker at airport):

    What’s the name again?


    How do you spell that?


    Second transmission:

    “He was determined to land, come hell or high water…”

    AY, re: distractions

    ‘When questioned by FAA investigators if there had been any distractions in the cockpit before he landed on the closed runway, Inhofe “did volunteer that he was showing a new hire employee seated in the right seat how the technology of the cockpit instrumentation worked.”’

    So, I’m just sayin’ that he’s just sayin’…

    Anyway, that’s Inhaw….INHAW…

  6. OS,

    Sounds like to me the weather was VFR.

    Sounds like to me he should have looked out the window,
    before he was on a short final.

    Sounds like to me, he should have listened to Corpus approach when they told him their was a NOTAM out for Port Isabel Airport(?). He said he had that NOTAM, but he continued. He saw the “X” on the runway, but he continued.

    OS, how often do you land on a runway when it is obstructed by man, vehicles or aircraft? I bet never.

    This guy put people’s lives in danger because he thought, correction he knows he is above any law.

    I am sure if you or I did this same stunt we would be the guests of the poorest Texas jail for life.

  7. Bud, since this would have had to be an administrative law action and not a criminal prosecution, I do not think we would have had a stay at the local Sheriff’s Bed & Breakfast, but I do think we might have been doing any future flying sitting in the back with a paid ticket.

    As you probably know, there are occasional runway incursions, and most do not warren revocation. A lot depends on circumstances and how persuasive the pilot is in explaining his or her actions to some folks in suits who do not seem capable of smiling. After all this shakes out, perhaps the four hours of recurrency safety training might be appropriate. If the CFI thinks he will be this arrogant again, perhaps the CFI will make a recommendation that his license be jerked.

    I read a study a couple of days ago which showed as people grow older, they slowly lose ability to multi-task. At 76 years of age, should he be flying a high-performance complex twin? Maybe or maybe not. He was VFR, but if he screws up like this on VFR, what happens if he is flying an IFR approach to minimums?

  8. @Otteray– Naval Aviator? I don’t think so. He was in the army in the late 1950’s. I also doubt the commercial pilots license. He has always flown small planes, as far as I know and this isn’t his first incident, though it is probably the worst. Something happened at an airport in Norman, Ok a few years ago. Unfortunately, this idiot is my Senator.

  9. Thanks OS. You are a voice of reason.

    But, somehow it doesn’t sit well with me at all.

    Four hours recurrency training is great for all of us, I think.

    I did not consider any age ability related factor. I did not think he was that old.

    OR, maybe he should just have a co pilot with him for say six months or so or permanently.

    Like you say, picture this, IFR down to minimums… No where to go but hell…

  10. Lisa, he does indeed hold a Commercial pilot’s license and holds a rating as a flight instructor as well. The following is from the database. However, his current license has been downrated from commercial to private pilot, and his private ticket expires August 2012. That apparently happened when his medical certificate went from second class to third class. One has to have a first or second class medical certificate in order to keep a commercial ticket. All a private pilot has to have is a third class medical. One has to wonder if he failed the strict conditions needed to pass a second class medical but could pass the lower standards of the third class.

    Airmen Database Search Result is below:

    Airman’s Address : 2139 E 32ND ST
    TULSA, OK, 74105-2213
    FAA Region : Southwest
    Date of Medical : Oct, 2009
    Class of Medical : 2
    Expiration of Class 2 : Oct, 2010
    Airman Certificates : Commercial Pilot
    Airplane Single and Multi Engine
    Airplane Single Engine Sea
    Instrument Airplane
    Flight Instructor (exp: 31-Jul-2012)
    Airplane Single and Multi Engine

    According to the information I have been able to glean, he was in the Army, but was taught to fly by the US Navy. Whether he was actually in the Navy for a time is not clear from the biographical information I find; however, I find it strange the Navy might have been teaching a member of the Army to fly. It is not unusual for a member of the service to request a transfer to another service, so it is possible he started in the Navy and ended up in the Army. As I said, the biographical data on that is rather sketchy. I suppose one could get a copy of his DD-214 under FOIA.

  11. OS,

    In re Navy training. I don’t think it’s that odd considering they were still transitioning from the Army Air Force (formerly the Army Air Corps) into the Air Force during the 1950’s. They didn’t become the U.S. Air Force officially until 1947. I can see a situation where that transition may have left them a bit short on trainers and borrowing some from the Navy. The Armed Forces have been known to cross-train.

  12. The database is current. It only shows currently licensed airmen. Also has a vast database of US registered aircraft. Aviation Medical Examiners, etc. Go to and at the bottom of the page you will see links to the databases. For example, here is mine:

    Class of Medical : 3
    Expiration of Class 3 : Feb, 2012
    Airman Certificates : Private Pilot
    Airplane Single and Multi Engine Land
    Glider Aero Tow
    Instrument Airplane

    I used to have a second class medical, but have no interest in flying commercial, so let that go for the easier to pass third class.

  13. rafflaw,


    “Inhofe should have been grounded. OS, if you or I had one that we would have been flying commercial from then on.”

    Ain’t that the truth. Special rules for special people…

  14. raff, revocation of a license is the most draconian penalty the FAA can impose, and is not used as much as people might think. If he had tested positive for drugs or alcohol, however, that would have pulled the trigger for revocation. Every pilot does something really stupid once in while, so they save revocations for the most egregious offenses.

    As bad as it may sound, the FAA takes the stance that things like this can be fixed with remedial training.

    In case anyone is wondering what those closed runway signs look like, check these links to photos:

    This photo is of one of the trailer mounted temporary markers. This is the approach end of a runway undergoing maintenance. Note the cement truck pouring concrete. Kind of obvious why this one is closed, which is exactly the kind of situation Inhofe saw. He flew over the construction workers and landed long.

  15. “Inhofe as showing no sense of guilt. Instead, he seemed angry that his path was not cleared”

    Another Marie Antoinette moment (picking up on a Buddhaism)

  16. Mere construction workers, folks. Probably don’t make enough to pay Inhofe’s monthly fee.

    Is douche bag technically one word or two? Either way, it describes Inhofe to a “t”.

  17. If he keeps flying, he is a good candidate for earning a Darwin Award. Just hope he does not remove anyone else from the gene pool. As a pilot that is. He is already working hard enough to send many of the rest of us for a dirt sandwich.

  18. Stamford Liberal,

    “Is douche bag technically one word or two?”

    My rule of thumb … when in doubt with no time to look it up, hyphenate … a hyphen’s main function is connective soooo ..

    At any rate … I wasted 5 minutes looking the word(s) up and found the majority of dictionaries show it as one word … but not all for, after all, this is the internet.

  19. Here’s an excerpt from Greenwald’s column today: “Of all the topics on which I’ve focused, I’ve likely written most about America’s two-tiered justice system — the way in which political and financial elites now enjoy virtually full-scale legal immunity for even the most egregious lawbreaking, while ordinary Americans, especially the poor and racial and ethnic minorities, are subjected to exactly the opposite treatment: the world’s largest prison state and most merciless justice system. That full-scale destruction of the rule of law is also the topic of my forthcoming book.”

    This is really bad news and we must peacefully hold the powerful to account for their actions. Egypt shows the US the way.

  20. Blouise,

    “My rule of thumb … ”

    Good rule of thumb, thanks!

    “I wasted 5 minutes looking the word(s) up and found the majority of dictionaries show it as one word … ”

    Glad I have company :) I did the same thing, thus my question …

  21. Instead, he seemed angry that his path was not cleared: “He come over here and started being like, ‘What the hell is this? I was supposed to have unlimited airspace.’”
    so, all small aircraft have to file detailed flight plans so that the airspace, especially around airports, is safely controlled….no? Approaching an airstrip at an airport, no matter how large or small, is not done without radio contact with the towers?

    perhaps ther eis more to this than meets the eye?

    ps; unlimited airspace is rendered irrelevant when transitioning to solid ground….

  22. OS,
    Thanks for the information on the database. I was hoping that it might go back into the Korean War or WWII era. I realize revocation is serious, but when someone arrogantly threatens the lives of people on the ground, I would think it would put him/her in line to lose their licenses.

  23. Um… How is this different than driving into an active construction site on a highway and “weaving” side-to-side around construction workers and equipment? If I tried that on some interstate construction (“Whaddaya mean the exit ramp is closed? Screw you, I’m driving through!”) I’m pretty sure I would be arrested by whatever law enforcement was near by.

    Senator Inhofe takes his responsibilities as a pilot seriously. #NotIntendedAsAFActualStatement

    (An experienced, military-trained pilot? Tell me he wasn’t simply pissed off that he might be inconvenienced by the closure and decided to f*%k with the ground workers just to be a douche?)

    Maybe he was on an emergency mission from God to prevent some Satanic environmentalists* from blocking God’s will that tons of CO2 be dumped into the atmosphere! So he HAD to land on that closed runway.

    (The Tea Party is not new. I was told almost 20 years ago by a Lyndon Larouche supporter that because environmentalism was earth worship and earth worship is the worship of the Mother Earth figurehead, thus because Mother Earth is a manifestation of Satan, that environmentalism is Satan worship. Most strangely, this was in a square in Munich, Germany where he was trying to promote some Larouche-y monorail system (huh?) as a solution to all of Germany’s problems. Ah, human beings, we are always entertaining…)

  24. tomdarch,

    “Senator Inhofe takes his responsibilities as a pilot seriously. #NotIntendedAsAFActualStatement”

    Lol – someone’s been watching “The Colbert Report” …

  25. OS,
    Thanks again. Would the NTSB be involved in Military plane crashes in the 1950’s? I would think it would be just the military or DOD officials. I will have to check out that link.

  26. raff: You would be largely correct. The only time there is likely to be a joint investigation is if a civilian aircraft is involved or if the accident happened at a civilian airport.

  27. bedaman, I first heard that 911 call abut 8 years ago and it remains one of my favorites, thanks for the redux.

  28. On a lighter note. Here is my friend Bob Hoover with his old airshow routine. The airplane he is flying is an ordinary six-passenger business aircraft called the Shrike Commander. Bob was an fighter pilot in WW-II, was shot down and was a POW for a time. He was sent to Stalag Luft I but escaped by stealing a Focke-Wulf FW-190. The FW-190 was one of the premier German fighter planes, but Bob managed to get in one, start the engine and take off. Needless to say, he did not have clearance from the tower. Later he became a test pilot and after that an air show pilot. He was famous for using a standard twin engine general aviation airplane in an engine out routine. Here is Bob Hoover doing what he does best. BTW, he was born in 1922. You can do the math.

  29. Raff, do you think that this old guy, Bob Hoover, would land on a closed runway because he was showing someone the cockpit controls?

    As far as I know, the only time in his life and thousands of hours of flight time; the ONLY time he did not obey the tower was when he stole that German fighter.

  30. Bob Hoover is far too modest, OS.

    That was some wicked flying.

    And his tea pouring isn’t bad either.

  31. BIL, Bob is from Tennessee and is a true southern gentleman of the old school. Just the polar opposite of people like Inhofe.

  32. Bob Hoover has always been the roll (sorry, someone had to say it)model that I have looked up to OS. He is simply fantastic. Too see him fly that Commander with absolute precision everytime is a thrill.

    I especially love the flying with the left hand and pouring the ice with the right while doing a roll. Incredible.

    I wish someone had given me advice about that years ago, like,

    I was especially sad to see the FAA yank his license too. I thought that was nothing but a power trip.

    Thanks for that vid..

  33. Bud, he got his license back, but because of the controversy he had a lot of trouble with insurance. As you probably suspect, I know more about that case than I wish I knew. It was two sick FAA people who said within hearing of others that, “Hoover has been around long enough.” and using a transparent excuse they thought his flying was not up to par that day, they proceeded to force him to undergo a battery of tests by a hired gun psychologist for the FAA, using an experimental test. He failed the test of course, after the chief medical examiner for the FAA at the time leaned on the psychologist. I still contend the psychologist should have had his license to practice jerked, but that did not happen.

    At any rate, Bob got his license back, but things were never the same again.

  34. Kay, pilots are not required to have insurance, but it is not a good idea to go bare.

    If you are a professional airshow pilot, the air show venue will require insurance. If you cannot be insured, no airshow will hire you.

  35. OS,

    I am so glad that he got his license back. I did not know that.

    Is he still flying on the air show circuit.

    The last I heard is that he was fighting the FAA, but I never heard the outcome…

    Thanks for the update.

  36. Bud, No on the airshow circuit. Insurance nightmares.

    Since everyone seemed to like that one, here is Sean D. Tucker to the music of Steve Morse. Steve is playing Air on a 6 String. He is a former airline pilot and friend of Sean.

    Sean D. Tucker was once invited for a VIP ride with the Blue Angels. When the slot pilot was told who his VIP passenger was going to be he is reported to have said, “You expect me to fly Sean D. Tucker? He is the best pilot in the world and you want him to fly in my back seat?” Blue Angel pilots are not known to be the panicky type, but to give Tucker a ride and “show him how its done” would intimidate any pilot.

    Here is Sean D. Tucker set to Air on a 6 String.

  37. OS,

    Great video. And I had no idea Steve Morse was a former commercial pilot. He is one of my favorite guitarists.

  38. A ride on the wild side.

    There have been some great aerobatic pilots, like
    Patty Wagstaff, Art Scholl, and Oscar Busch, that are
    absolute masters at aerobatics.

    And of course Sean.

  39. Regulations of safe flying should be enforced much more strictly to avoid situations like these, which could give the passengers doubt and second guessing whether they should be flying.

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  41. I was sitting on the curb during a Stillwater Homecoming Parade one year when Inhofe lost control of the big horse (Paiomino?) he was riding. He barely got control of it and I nearly got trampled in the process. Instead of apologizing before he continued, he simply looked at the stunned crowd behind me and stated, “It is a great day for a parade!” He then rode on and left astonished looks behind. I began cussing him but he simply trotted on. He handles the reins of government about the same. It is not a stretch for me to believe the airport story.

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