Busting The DC ADIZ -- In Arizona...

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So Why Won't It Happen To You?

Shortly after Dale Mooneyham put away his G-model Mooney (no, we didn't ask) on the afternoon of Sept. 2 at his home base of Chandler (CHD) in Arizona, an aircraft apparently strayed near Stevensville, Md into Washington D.C.'s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). That aircraft apparently wasn't squawking a discrete transponder code and had not established contact with air traffic control. The trouble (for Mooneyham) is, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) thinks it was Mooneyham's plane that busted the ADIZ. Now, Mooneyham is waiting to see if federal officials will accept the mountain of evidence he's provided to prove that this is a case of mistaken identity. "This isn't just my pilot's certificate at stake, I'm an A&P mechanic for Southwest [Airlines] and it could affect my job," Mooneyham told AVweb. Mooneyham received the letter from DHS on Sept. 10 saying "information furnished to this office indicates that N6791N operated inside the Washington DC Air Defense Identification Zone without a discrete transponder code or communicating with ATC." Mooneyham, taking note that the aircraft in question made no contact with ATC and did not transmit a transponder code, wonders who furnished the identifying information and how much legwork DHS did to establish the aircraft in question was his plane. He speculates that a radar contact was followed to an airport and the airport was called to ask for the N numbers of aircraft that had landed at that time. "I'm assuming they called around and someone guessed at the N-number," Mooneyham said. With the N-number, it's easy to track down the aircraft owner through the FAA database (which is exactly what we did) and send out a fact-filled letter ... even if (as Mooneyham maintains) the facts are wrong.