No Charges Filed
The two general aviation pilots at the center of Wednesday's air
scare in Washington, DC, were laying low Thursday, staying away
from telephones and dodging reporters' questions. Although they
probably won't face criminal charges, according to federal
authorities, at least one of them could be looking at a 60-day
certificate suspension -- or even revocation.
Lititz, PA, resident Heyden "Jim" Schaeffer, 69, and 36-year old
Troy Martin of Akron, PA, were released Wednesday after the Cessna
150K they were flying in flew to within three miles of the White
House. The executive mansion, Capitol and Supreme Court were all
evacuated before the little plane was finally turned away by
fighters and DHS Black Hawk helicopters.
"They were navigating by sight and were lost," said Justice
Department spokesman Kevin Madden, quoted by Lancaster Online.
The two men were searched and questioned for about an hour
before officials came to that conclusion, he said.
John Henderson, a pilot and secretary of the Vintage Aero Club
in Smoketown, PA, where Schaeffer and Martin rented the Cessna
150K, was certain this was all a very big mistake.
"I’m certain he didn't know (he was that close to the
capital)," he told Lancaster Online, referring to his friend,
Schaeffer. "I’d bet money on that. I think they got lost,
which is not difficult to do."
Contrary to earlier reports,
Henderson said neither of the two pilots aboard the 150K brought
along a GPS.
"GPS makes life so simple for a pilot," he said. "It also
depicts restricted airspace."
Their incursion into the Washington ADIZ, Henderson said, was a
"dumb mistake. Oh man. I would be, well, if that were me, the
curtains would be down and the door would be locked."
Schaeffer and Martin may indeed be homed with the doors locked
and the curtains drawn, but they're far from out of the woods yet.
Even though they weren't arrested when they were forced to land at
Frederick Municipal Airport near Camp David, MD, Schaeffer faces
suspension of his flying ticket for at least 60-days, said FAA
Examiner Michael Kuhn, of East Lampeter Township. He said Schaeffer
may even face a revocation hearing.
Another local pilot, 70-year old John Otto, told Lancaster
Online, "I don’t know why they would venture into that
airspace without the proper equipment. They are nice guys, but they
sure did cause a hell of a ruckus."