Wed, May 18, 2005
Prosecutors Say They Drank "Copious Amounts"
It could be one of the most ballyhooed trials in commercial
aviation history -- the case of two America West pilots accused of
trying to fly drunk almost two years ago.
Since then, Captain Thomas Cloyd and First Officer Christopher
Hughes have been free on $100,000 bond each. They're charged in
federal court with operating an aircraft while under the influence
of alcohol. If convicted, they could both face five years in
As ANN has reported, the two men were passing
through airport security in Miami when a TSA worker noticed the
strong odor of alcohol. There was an argument when one
of the pilots tried to carry a prohibited cup of coffee into the
concourse. Later, according to police reports, the two pilots said
they'd had "too many pints" of beer at a Miami sports bar during
their night of revelry that didn't end until 0330 the morning
before the flight. When administered breathalyzer tests, both
pilots reportedly showed more than .08 percent blood-alcohol
But they say they're
Cloyd and Hughes figure it this way: their flight from Miami to
Phoenix was halted while the Airbus was being towed from the gate.
They never had control of the aircraft. In other words, you can't
be convicted of drunk driving if you never put the car in gear.
There is no method of steering, operating or controlling the
airplane while the steering system is disconnected,'' attorneys for
the pilots said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
But prosecutors are ready for that argument. They contend Cloyd
and Hughes had "the capacity to operate the vehicle, regardless of
whether or not [they were] operating the vehicle at the time of the
alleged offense.'' That's right out of the book.
Jury selection was expected to continue Wednesday.
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