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Mon, May 16, 2005

Senior Pilot In ADIZ Incursion Could Lose Ticket

FAA Contemplates Stringent Action

Washington is gearing up to take its retribution from at least one of the two pilots who blew through the DC ADIZ last Wednesday. In the meantime, the younger of the two men on board that Cessna 150K is being hailed as a "hero."

"Any enforcement action we might take is not done lightly," said FAA spokesman Greg Martin, quoted by the Washington Post. He said an agency investigation could very well result in revocation of 69-year old Heyden "Jim" Schaeffer's flight priveleges.

"It's quite evident from anybody who witnessed Wednesday's incident that the pilot clearly had no idea what he wandered into," Martin said.

But the 36-year old student pilot flying with Schaeffer, Troy Martin, could fare much better. That's because officials said, while Schaeffer froze at the controls when he saw a DHS UH-60 Black Hawk suddenly appear very close to the 150K, suddenly having trouble handling the controls of the small aircraft, Martin apparently took over and was able to fly the Cessna to Frederick, MD, where he safely landed. The two men were handcuffed and taken into custody. Only after more than an hour of intense interrogation were investigators satisfied the deep incursion was nothing more than a navigational mistake -- the two men were lost.

The Post reports Martin has just 30 hours total time when he and Schaeffer took off from Smoketown, PA, on their way to an air show in Lumberton, NC, Wednesday. Their flight took them to within three miles of the White House before they were intercepted by a pair of F-16s and a Black Hawk helicopter. The ADIZ incursion forced the evacuation of the White House, Capitol and US Supreme Court.

Sources told the Washington newspaper Schaeffer failed to obtain a weather briefing, failed to file even a VFR flight plan and was navigating by landmarks -- without a GPS on board.

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.dhs.gov

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