Prisoner Takes Flight

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We'll be the first to say that flying is good therapy but as a Nebraska inmate's choice of rehabilitation the idea has raised some eyebrows. While he was still in jail, local corrections officials and the FAA allowed Barry Greg Caughlin to climb in an airplane by himself and head off into the wild blue yonder, according to a report by local NBC news. Apparently Caughlin has, to date, kept his promise to come back each time as he builds time toward his private pilot certificate. There's another twist. Caughlin's conviction, for which he has been behind bars for more than four years, is for vehicular homicide. He can't get a driver's license until 2011. The FAA says there's nothing stopping him from being a pilot and prison officials said the decision to let him go ahead was not taken lightly. Community Corrections spokesman Ryan Mahr said inmates taking part in educational release programs are carefully screened and constantly monitored. And in case Caughlin got the urge to fly the coop, Mahr noted that he's under the watchful eye of an instructor and, when flying solo, he's being tracked on radar. " We felt we could account for him while he was out of the facility on the program," Mahr said. He also submits to regular breath tests. Caughlin had been drinking when he crashed his (previous) vehicle into another, killing a man and his son in 1999. He declined to be interviewed but told reporters he's working hard to turn his life around. It's all too much for the local police chief in Elkhorn, Neb., however. Tim Dempsey told local reporters "it doesn't make sense" that Caughlin be allowed to fly when courts don't think he should be able to drive a car.