Sun, Jan 03, 2010
Jets Summoned When Pilot Refused To Comply With ATC
Jean-Claude Courtois took off from BKV Thursday in his
newly-purchased Cessna Conquest 425 only to be escorted back down
by two F-15s less than an hour later. The French-speaking
pilot refused to respond to ATC, causing enough concern that the
jets were dispatched to encourage him to land.
According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, the CFI
at American Aviation at Hernando County Airport (BKV) that gave
Courtois a check-ride on his new Conquest suggested he get more
training and improve his English skills prior to flying. When
a translator explained the comments to Courtois, he reportedly
became indignant and proceeded to take off without obtaining
The CFI contacted Tampa FAA and was redirected to Tampa Airport
Approach to voice his concerns about the flight. When
Courtois did not respond to requests from ATC, NORAD sent two F-15s
from Homestead AFB to intercept the aircraft and force it to land
Capt. Sharbe Clark of NORAD said Courtois complied with the
requests of the F-15 pilots. "Once the jets got up there,
they requested that he land and he did", Clark said. "We're not
really sure what happened, why he didn't respond."
Courtois landed at Everglades Jet Park in Collier County about
an hour after takeoff where he was questioned and released.
The sheriff's office says he won't face criminal charges.
The incident was "blown out of proportion," Hernando County
Airport Director Don Silvernell told the Tampa Tribune. "It
was his plane and he left with it."
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