Says Infamous Father Keeping His Charter Company Grounded
Craig Schweitzer says
he tried to follow the rules in starting a charter airline in
Kenai, AK. He accuses the FAA of having an ulterior motive in
keeping that operation on the ground.
Schweitzer is the son of Leroy Schweitzer. If that name doesn't
ring a bell, the organization the elder man once led probably will:
the Montana Freemen, who held US marshals at bay during a
widely-publicized 81-day standoff in 1996.
Craig started Mavrik Aire in Alaska the same year, and says he
told his father he should "play by the rules" when dealing with the
government. That was advice Leroy Schweitzer did not heed... and in
the wake of numerous disputes with neighbors and the FAA, his son
now says he's not so sure his father wasn't right to take on the
"As much as people love America -- and I feel for it too -- I
think our government has betrayed us," Schweitzer told the
Anchorage Daily News in a recent interview. "There are men who
fought and died for the freedoms we're supposed to have in this
What provoked the Alaskan pilot? Craig Schweitzer maintains FAA
inspectors have sought reasons to shut his business down for years,
due solely to his family ties. Last Thursday, the FAA succeeded in
grounding Schweitzer -- as a judge rejected an earlier appeal by
the man after the FAA stripped him of his license.
Schweitzer says the FAA won over a technicality: that he didn't
disclose a citation for refusing to take a breath test on suspicion
of drunken driving on an application for an FAA medical. He says he
had disclosed it before.
Those accusations are "malarkey," in the words of the former FAA
inspector who built a case against Schweitzer, and Mavrik Aire,
over an assortment of rules violations -- including failing to
schedule flight checks, and illegally upping the gross weight
rating on one of the operation's planes.
"Craig wants to operate according to his rules," said Spencer
Hill, who retired from the FAA in March. "You start overloading an
aircraft and then it becomes an unstable machine. This has caused a
lot of wrecks."
Aware of Craig Schweitzer's lineage, FAA agents asked state
troopers to accompany them when they served the man with an
emergency revocation of his license in July. A spokeswoman for the
state patrol acknowledges the agents feared for their safety...
adding Schweitzer was fined $500 for assault, when he allegedly
threatened to get a gun and shoot a woman serving him with legal
papers regarding another matter.
For now, Mavrik Aire is still flying -- benefitting from an
exemption to charter regs in Alaska, that allows the airline to fly
hunters to camps... as long as Schweitzer is nowhere near the
controls. Schweitzer says that will keep Mavrik Aire in operation
for now... but come winter, when his business once relied on
government cargo contracts to stay afloat, the FAA ban will keep
his planes on the ground.
characterizes the incident as an example of the very type of
government oppression his father tried to fight against. The
Freemen rejected federal authority, even setting up its own court
system... and placing liens on public officials' property. Today,
Leroy Schweitzer is serving 22 years in jail, on charges including
conspiracy, bank fraud, false claims to the IRS and threats against
"The government can come in and squash out the little guy -- the
same government that my dad was fighting for 20 years," Schweitzer
said. "Way back when my dad was fighting this battle, I said you
should play by the rules. I did that for 15 years and all the
sudden they said you can no longer work here.
"That's the court system that you guys have in this country,"
Schweitzer has also run into problems with his neighbors at a
North Kenai air park. Schweitzer runs Mavrik Aire from his home
there, and has sued neighbors on allegations the homeowners
association conspired to limit his access to a floatplane
"What Craig Schweitzer has done is he tries to bully and
intimidate people and rides his father's coattails, and says, 'If
you don't follow my way of thinking I'm going to sue you,'" said
neighbor Bill Woodin.
Former FAA inspector Hill says he tried "to work with Craig to
keep him out of trouble, but every time I turned around there was