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Mon, Dec 27, 2004

FAA: Cocaine Plane Overshot Runway

Aerostar Was Attempting To Land At Wheeling-Ohio County Airport

A Smith Aerostar loaded with 520 pounds of cocaine apparently overshot the runway on landing at Wheeling-Ohio County Airport on the weekend before Christmas. That word came Wednesday from FAA spokesman James Peters. The man the FAA says piloted the smuggling aircraft, Eugene Nicholas Cobb of Los Angeles, CA.

It wasn't immediately clear if Cobb failed to stop or tried to apply power and lift back off the runway Saturday night. The PA-60 wound up in a ravine about 350 yards off the departure end of the runway, Peters said in an interview with the Wheeling News-Register.

Cobb is apparently well known in FAA circles. Peters said he has four open cases pending, all concerning violations of FARs.

In Oklahoma City, FAA spokesman John Clabes would only discuss one of the allegations. On November 6th, 2003, Cobb is accused of taking off without clearance in an aircraft that wasn't registered. Clabes said he was signaled with a light gun, but failed to heed instructions.

Cobb was fingered as a suspect after his California drivers' license photo showed up at a nearby hotel where he apparently registered after fleeing the scene of the accident. That picture, according to authorities, matched a drivers' license photo from California.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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