Senator Inhofe's Letter From The FAA

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A letter from the FAA (PDF) to Sen. James Inhofe says he has completed "remedial training" and the FAA has decided not to pursue legal enforcement action as the result of his landing on an occupied closed runway, before departing from a taxiway, last October. The FAA initiated an investigation after the 75-year-old senator landed his Cessna 340, with three others aboard, at Port Isabel-Cameron Country, Texas, on Oct. 21, 2010. The senator's then-chosen runway was marked with large Xs, and littered with a large red truck, other vehicles, and construction workers. No one was injured as a result of the incident. Inhofe has said he was offered the choice of possible legal action, or the training program, and took the second option. His training included four hours of ground instruction and three hours of flight instruction. It was provided by an instructor who had previously been a student of the senator, according to TulsaWorld.com. FAA spokesperson Sarah Johnson said the agency treated the senator as it would any other pilot. Inhofe has also had things to say.

In the days following the incident, Inhofe said, "It's unfortunate, I'm sorry, but I'm not really concerned about it." Regarding NOTAMs, he told TulsaWorld.com "people who fly a lot just don't do it." Last week, TulsaWorld reported that Inhofe "remains convinced he did nothing wrong" and "said he considers the matter closed." The letter from FAA Aviation Safety Inspector Robert J. O'Keefe seems to suggest the agency feels largely the same way. According to the letter, dated Jan. 4, 2011, the senator was advised that his actions were "contrary to Sections 91.13(a) and 91.103(a) of the Code of Federal Regulations." Those sections cover "careless or reckless" operation of aircraft and preflight responsibilities -- Inhofe was not aware of the closed runway prior to his flight. The letter says that based on "satisfactory completion of the remedial training program" legal action will not be pursued and the letter itself will be a matter of record for two years, "after which the record of this matter will be expunged."

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