…As Pennsylvania Pilot Flies Through Loophole


While the FAA has rules about flying and drinking, those rules don’t apply in criminal court. So when an allegedly drunk pilot raised havoc in the skies above Philadelphia early this year, the case frustrated prosecutors who found that Pennsylvania is one of three states with no law against flying drunk. They tried to convince the judge that the runway was a public highway, so the drunk-driving laws would apply, but the judge noted that the runway was on private property. The airspace above the county is also not a highway, the judge ruled. “It was a little frustrating,” Montgomery County Asst. D.A. John Gradel told the Associated Press last week. Pilot John Salamone lost his FAA certificate and surrendered his medical after allegedly flying erratically in Philadelphia International’s busy airspace in January. He was tried on charges of risking a catastrophe and reckless endangerment. The positive spin that GA can find in this story is that if it took 100 years of flying before anyone in Pennsylvania noticed that the state lacked such a law, there is obviously not a whole lot of drunken flying going on.