Political Animal


July 07, 2011 9:25 AM Why Inhofe is mad at the FAA

By Steve Benen

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is probably about as good a pilot as he is a senator. That’s not a compliment.

Last year, Inhofe saw a closed runway at his South Texas destination — it was marked with a giant X — but decided to land on it anyway. He touched down and then “sky hopped” over six vehicles and personnel working on the runway, before landing for good. Inhofe, among other things, also didn’t feel the need to check the Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) indicating the runway closure prior to flying.

The man supervising the runway repairs said the right-wing senator “scared the crap out of us” and nearly hit a truck with a person inside. “He was determined to land on that runway come hell or high water, evidently,” the supervisor said.

The airport manager, himself a pilot for more than 50 years, said he’d “never seen such a reckless disregard for human life.”

Inhofe agreed to a “program of remedial training” as a substitute for legal action. With that done, the far-right Oklahoman has decided to go after the FAA for bothering him.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is pushing a bill that would protect pilots from “agency overreach” by the Federal Aviation Administration, in response to his own experience at the mercy of the FAA after he “scared the crap out of” airport workers last year when he landed his Cessna on a closed runway.

“I was never fully appreciative of the feeling of desperation until it happened to me,” he said.

The bill is expected to be introduced Wednesday and called the “Pilot’s Bill Of Rights.”

Apparently, Inhofe is mad at the FAA, just because the agency held him responsible for nearly causing a runway disaster due entirely to his personal negligence. In turn, the Oklahoman feels justified punishing the FAA with new restrictions.

He’s quite a senator, isn’t he?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Josef K on July 07, 2011 9:30 AM:

    He’s quite a senator, isn’t he?

    I've no idea how this man still has a pilot's license, or how he even got elected in the first place.

    Guess its true that a person can rise only to the level of their incompetence.

  • jjm on July 07, 2011 9:30 AM:

    Isn't he the pathetic idiot who went solo to Copenhagen to shout warnings that global climate change was fraudulent, and who had every attendee looking at him like he was the moron that he is?

  • MattF on July 07, 2011 9:31 AM:

    Laws are for the little people.

  • SteveT on July 07, 2011 9:32 AM:

    If there were any Democrats left in the Senate with osseous spines, they would hold a hearing on Inhofe's bill and use it ask the head of the FAA why the senator from Koch Industries still has a pilots license and how many more politically-connected reckless pilots who should have been grounded are still flying.

  • amorphous on July 07, 2011 9:36 AM:

    What I find interesting about this story is how little coverage it has gotten. Take a look at searching Google News for "Inhofe FAA", and you get Rachel Maddow, The Atlantic, the Tulsa World, and TPM. No NYTimes, WaPo, or network TV news. Why isn't this story getting any traction? Too many private pilots in the leadership of major media outlets?

  • Danp on July 07, 2011 9:36 AM:

    said he’d “never seen such a reckless disregard for human life.”

    This is nothing compared to the invasion of Iraq, or the strategic denial of climate science, or Republican policies in general.

    But the fact that Inhofe was teaching someone to fly when he did this sky-hop certainly indicates that the man is unhinged.

  • Anonymous on July 07, 2011 9:41 AM:

    Oklahoma. Inhofe. Yep. Perfect match.

    Jackass State, jackass Senators.

  • Todd for VT House on July 07, 2011 9:42 AM:

    When is he going to deal with the overreach of stop signs, speed limits and drunk driving laws?

  • boatboy_srq on July 07, 2011 9:46 AM:

    If this isn't the archetypal illustration of the entitlement rampant in the Good Ol' Boy side of the GOP, I don't know what is.

    Duke Cunningham (the last holder of that title) was at least only scamming wealth from his handlers. Inhofe scalps his - in this case, nearly literally.

    ... and Captcha for the win with "einvent some."

  • Patrick Star on July 07, 2011 9:49 AM:

    Unbelievable. You would think that Inhofe was lucky not to get his pilot's license revoked, AT THE LEAST! Now he wants to pick a fight with the FAA?! Just goes to show the utter contempt these assholes have for the rule of law. Since Obama and the Dems never hold these guys accountable, their behavior just goes farther and farther over the line.

  • jcricket on July 07, 2011 9:50 AM:

    Inhofe: What an incompetent blowhole.

  • Gov't Mule on July 07, 2011 9:55 AM:

    Another Teahadist whiffing on personal responsibility. I guess only people who took out ARM mortgages or single women who got impregnated have to face the consequences of "personal responsibility." IOKIYAR.

  • Countme-In on July 07, 2011 9:59 AM:

    I'm quite sure there are FAA security procedures for scrambling fighter jets in the event of a pilot disobeying tower directives.

    Shoot the motherf8cking subhuman murderous Republican vermin out of the sky, I believe is how it would be phrased were there any common sense in this political toilet of a country.

  • kevo on July 07, 2011 10:03 AM:

    Inhofe has not a healthy soul! -Kevo

  • c u n d gulag on July 07, 2011 10:07 AM:

    I would say 'let this MFer keep on flying' - but the body count might be too high.

  • bdop4 on July 07, 2011 10:24 AM:

    Someone needs to ridicule this man on the senate floor. Describe every embarrassing detail of this event, and point to it as THE reason for this bill. Petty vindictiveness and a reprehensible abuse of power by a senator.

    THIS is how republicans legislate.

    Sen. Sanders, I know you've got a lot on your plate, but you're the only guy in the Senate who has the cajones to do this.

  • Bob M on July 07, 2011 11:11 AM:

    If he had done that to me, I would have smacked him silly, old fart or not. What's with the guys on the spot who just let him go?

  • Peter G on July 07, 2011 11:16 AM:

    I think it would be appropriate to hereafter refer to him as Wrong Runway Imhofe.

  • wasd on July 07, 2011 11:30 AM:

    Maybe the rich senator would prefer to keep the government and its remedial training programs out of things and just settle things in a civil suit with the people he nearly killed?

  • Dex on July 07, 2011 12:25 PM:

    Did Inhofe sustain a serve blow to the head or was he born that dumb? The voters of Oklahoma are compelled to vote Republican, but how can they continue to overlook Inhofe's incompetence?

  • pi**ed off liberal on July 07, 2011 12:26 PM:

    A shame he didn't crash, it would have been a significant improvement to the Senate. Oh well, maybe next time.

  • Basilisc on July 07, 2011 12:55 PM:

    Presenting the Party of Personal Responsibility.

  • OKDem on July 07, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Ironically, if he had crashed, the FAA accident investigation unit is in Oklahoma City, along with the largest FAA facility outside DC.

  • Susan Paxton on July 07, 2011 12:58 PM:

    Private pilot Joe Blow would have lost his license. This POS should lose his too.

  • thebewilderness on July 07, 2011 1:14 PM:

    Even after remedial training he claims he did nothing wrong. He should lose his license if the training was insufficient to convince him that he is not above the law.

  • Notastu Pidliberal on July 07, 2011 2:12 PM:

    I wish the haters here would place even a fraction of this scrutiny and disgust at the Monstrous Ignorant fiasco that Obama is. Get the beam out of your eye people. That's a Bible reference by the way, for you
    atheistic liberals. Come out and get a breath of fresh air, stop your cranial rectitis, it's ruining everything decent about this country.

  • Anonymous on July 07, 2011 2:45 PM:

    Astu Pidconservative,
    Which obviously closed runway did Obama try to land on? I missed that story.
    By the way, although Buddhist, I got the bible reference. Ironic that you would chose this particular Mathew citation since you seemed not to have noticed the beam in your own eye 2000-2008.

  • kevo on July 07, 2011 4:22 PM:

    Well Notastu, you've provided a bit of biblical reference for us all, but I just wonder, with the tone of your statement, do you have Jesus love in your heart? Because, for someone who is quick to identify yourself as a Christian, I am reading a bit of unChristian hostility in your voice.

    In your heart, Notastu, are you a real Christian? -Kevo

  • kfreed on July 08, 2011 2:06 AM:

    Well sure, when you run with a political crowd that holds itself above the law, claiming a mandate from God, who is the FAA to contradict such a one? Eh, Inhofe?