Imagine you’re a private pilot taking the wife out for a friendly flight from San Diego. You climb into your rented Cessna and get arrested at gunpoint on the ground in Santa Barbara.
That’s what happened to John and Martha King last Saturday. Recognized and respected members of the general aviation community, the Kings rented a Cessna 172 with a tail number that was the same as a plane stolen eight years ago. They were treated like criminals when ground authorities at Santa Barbara detained them at gunpoint. The AVweb news report shows Martha, raised hands, accosted by gendarmes on the tarmac on a mistaken identity.
Clearly, no one at Santa Barbara airport checked to see that their N-number was legitimate. The N-number on their plane was the same as the tail number of the stolen plane. But the FAA cancelled the original number years ago. It was reissued to the plane the Kings rented long before they rented it.
So, here’s one government agency, doing its thing on its own, informing no one else and another local agency taking their ignorance and ineptitude out on law-abiding citizens. The Kings were out for a nice Saturday afternoon flight and wind up looking down a couple of gun barrels of government officials who don’t know what they’re doing. Besides, you’ve got to agree…the Kings don’t exactly look like airplane thieves!
If you ask me, this is government bureaucracy and ineptitude in action. Let’s fire the FAA and the Santa Barbara Police and all the other government agencies involved who got the identity of the Kings’ airplane wrong. The incompetence of their people and the failure of their systems are incredible. It’s amazing how badly they messed up.
As for the Kings, when you have a gun pointing at you in error, I bet you don’t forget it!