CHP Nabs Pilot for Flying Drunk

CHP airplanes don't have lights and sirens. Officers had to follow the pilot in question until he landed.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    flickr.com/maynard

    It was not your typical DUI traffic stop in the North Bay Tuesday.  This one happened in mid-air.

    A CHP air operations officer was on routine patrol above Highway 37 in Sonoma County at 4 p.m. when he said he and his co-pilot noticed a small engine plane "flying low and in a reckless manner."

    The flight crew said they estimated the plane was flying as low as 50 feet and within 100 feet of traffic on Highway 37. That's a violation of Federal Aviation Regulations that says "pilots must operate their aircraft at an altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface."

    They followed the plane to the Petaluma airport where it landed.

    As the two CHP pilots questioned the man about his reckless flying pattern they said they noticed an odor of alcohol on his breath.

    They administered a field sobriety test right there on the tarmac, which the 62-year-old man apparently failed.

    He was arrested for operating an aircraft under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and in a reckless manner, according to the CHP.

    The folks at the Golden Gate Air Operations in Napa couldn't guarantee that their officers had never pulled over a pilot for a DUI before, but they said it was a very rare occurrence.