Drinking Again - Busted By The T.S.A.

JEP

Malko In Charge
Staff member
Virgin pilot on drink-fly charge
Saturday, December 20, 2003 Posted: 10:44 AM EST (1544 GMT)


A Virgin transatlantic flight
Virgin Atlantic
Washington
London Heathrow Airport


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Virgin Atlantic pilot detained by police in Washington has been charged with attempting to operate an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol, an airline spokesman said.

Captain Richard Harwell, 55, who is American but based in the UK, had been due to take 383 passengers on Virgin Atlantic flight VS22 from Dulles airport, Washington, to Heathrow airport in London when he was arrested.

Passengers faced a 23-hour delay after the incident.

The spokesman told the UK's Press Association that Capt. Harwell had been with the airline 14 years and had an "unblemished record."

"Everyone at Virgin Atlantic is shocked and surprised," the spokesman said.

"This is unprecedented -- it's the first time it has happened in the 20 years we've been operating and is totally out of character for Captain Harwell, who is an extremely experienced and popular pilot.

"We are at a loss to explain what has happened."

Capt. Harwell, who has been stood down from duty, was still in custody and the issue of bail would be established later, he added.

The airline has started an internal inquiry into the incident.

"We will be talking to him and the authorities over the coming weeks to find out what has happened," the spokesman said.

According to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Transportation Safety Administration security officials reported the pilot after one of its security screeners suspected he had been drinking.

Airport police then responded to the gate where the plane was set to depart and escorted the pilot from the aircraft.

"The pilot has been suspended with immediate effect and will face an internal inquiry," said Tara Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority.

The stranded travellers were put up in hotels until a new crew could be found.

They were expected to leave Washington at 6:15 p.m. local time Saturday (2315 GMT), arriving at London Heathrow early Sunday, 23 hours late.

Capt. Harwell lives in the UK with his family.

-- CNN's Michael McManus contributed to this report
 

Kristie

Mama Bear....
Staff member
from what i've heard - a TSA's suspicions are enough to go on now a days.... which to me seems ridiculous... i mean - the guy could have taken a bit of mouthwash and unfortunately - depending on the type - it can make the it seem like you've been drinking and can make the breathalyzer go off...

but i betcha the guy wasn't drinking cuz who would be that stupid on such a long long transatlantic flight.... you gotta have your wits about you when doing those flights because you lose all radio contact with ATC....

i mean - you can have a bad day and be deprived of sleep and still not be able to speak that well or get your wits about you.. like waking up late for work - getting to work - then not being able to unscramble the brain...

doug still has TSA screeners try to "check" him and doug can tell when that's happening and all he does is smile and nod....
 

av8rmsu

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
Did he submit to a Breathalyzer or is a TSA screener's suspicions enough to arrest someone?

[/ QUOTE ]



I don't know. I'm sure the Police Authority confirmed the allegation before anything was done about it.

I wonder how many times this captain has done this without getting caught? He just seems a little old to just now start making these stupid decisions.

I hope the Police don't botch this up like they did with the America West pilots.



Innocent until proven guilty....of course.
 

shooter13

New Member
I thihnk whenever I get to the point that screeners are checking me for booze instead of looking for terrorists, I am going to eat a lot of garlic during trips. When they get close, I plan to say as many words that begin with the letter "H" as possible.

"HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHow are you?, HHHHHHHHHaving a nice day today?"

You get the point. Of course I have to make sure they won't confiscate my tin of altoids so the Captain will be able to breathe.
 

Kristie

Mama Bear....
Staff member
i'm not sure altoids is a cure for garlic breath - i know we had that discussion before.. what was the cure that we all came up with again?!
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
I hope this isn't like the airline pilot in Norfolk last year that the TSA triumphantly had arrested that later tested negative for alcohol consumption by the police. But of course, all of the idiots that reported both his name and his employer seemed to lose interest in the story after he tested negative.

At the first mention of suspicion, you are removed from duty and undergo a official alcohol test. Whether or not he passed the test or not, they had probably already missed their Atlantic slot time across the pond so the flight was cancelled anyway.

I trust the TSA and the media that reports it's exploits as far as I can throw a JT-8 jet engine.

For example, there was a case of an airline pilot at the PHX terminal that supposedly assaulted a TSA agent. The media was all over it and the TSA made some big press release about zero tolerance when it comes to physically intimidating their workers.

No, it wasn't me.

Turns out that the pilot suspected of 'assaulting' the TSA agent was experiencing one of the famous "Get in your face and ask the pilot a question so his breath can be sniffed" tests.

The agent frightened the pilot and he held his arm out in a "whoah buddy, you're way too close" motion and the screener started screaming bloody murder.

Once the pilot's attorney subpeonaed the security tape and determined that the incident, in fact, was not assault, did the TSA publish a full retraction of the incident or apologize to the pilot for smearing his character?

Nope.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
I don't know. I'm sure the Police Authority confirmed the allegation before anything was done about it.

[/ QUOTE ]

Not necessarily true.
 

Kristie

Mama Bear....
Staff member
well, if you think on how many media stories are released before anything is actually confirmed....that happens way more often than not!
 

Mike Lewis

Shadow Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
well, if you think on how many media stories are released before anything is actually confirmed....that happens way more often than not!

[/ QUOTE ]

People often forget the "allegedly"...
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
People often forget the "allegedly"...


[/ QUOTE ]

Ahh, the 'catch all'!


That or "sources close to the investigation" or "sources report"...

I'm scared to death of using listerine toothpaste or mouthwash on the road because for a span of six weeks, I had some goateed screener in my face every morning.
 

highspeed

Well-Known Member
Thw worst part of my job is going through security, all you hear is:

Take off your shoes

Is everything out of your pockets

TAKE OUT THE LAPTOP'S PEOPLE

I SAID TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!!!!!

*beep* MALE ASSIST!!

DIDN'T I SAY TAKE OFF YOUR BELT!!!!!!!
 

John_Jones

New Member
Well if he was drunk, thats sort of stupid. If the TSA screwed up again, well I'll just laugh. I actually just put this on News-Scan 96-5 (radio station-news program) and I had 10 people calling in asking about it. I was the person broadcasting (and still doing it right now) and I made fun of the poor TSA Airmen and I had a bunch pf people call in bitching at me about making fun of the employees. One person even calling in and saying the "N-Word" saying I'm racist against "N-Word's since thats the kind of people that work for the TSA" (luckily software takes it out) and I said "well first of all I am an N-Word, and second of all that word is racist so arent you racist"? Goons on the radio, how dumb some are. If I can I'll try to get the tape up here for you to listen to, its quite funny.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
Ah, yes. The lovely TSA. They are more polite than the guys they replaced, but I gotta tell you one thing.

Osama bin Laden himself could walk right through there without them noticing. They'd be too busy yelling at a woman who says "I don't want to put my cat in the x-ray machine" or telling a 90 year old grandmother that her walker needs to be x-rayed to notice.

And I'm just glad that Richard Reid didn't decide to put explosives up his butt, otherwise.....
 

PhotoPilot

New Member
Now that FAR 61.3(I)(4) says we have to present our license to the TSA on request, I'm always worried about taking it with me when I fly commercially. I'm just waiting for the fool who says "If I take your license you won't be able to hijack the plane." I already had trouble carrying on my flight bag earlier this week:

TSA: "What's this?"
Me: "An E6-B flight computer."
TSA: "What's it for?"
Me: "Figuring wind corrections, fuel consumption, time-on-distance, and other flight computations."
TSA: "Why do you need it?"
Me: "Because I'm a pilot."
TSA: "What's this?"
Me: "A flight headset."
TSA: "What's it for?"
Me: "Blocking noise in the cockpit and talking to ATC."
TSA: "Why do you need it?"
Me: "Because I'm a pilot . . . "
TSA: "What's this?"
Me: "A kneeboard."
TSA: "What's it for?"
Me: " . . . "


They went through every item in my bag - even my timer, for goodness sake - and asked the same questions over and over. They finally let me through but looked at me like I was some kind of suspect. Talk about frustrating!
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
The ultimate in idiocy for the TSA (well, it wasn't the TSA yet, so maybe I can't blame them) was in Austin. I saw them go through every single thing in the flight bags of a captain and first officer who were in uniform. I foolishly had some literature on a flight school in Austin with me, so I got sent over for the proctological exam as well.

And I'm watching these security people go through everything the crew has and I'm like, dude, if they wanted to do something with the airplane, they're in the freaking cockpit! What are they going to do, hijack themselves?
 

SteveC

Really?
Staff member
I've gotten to the point where I refuse to take off my shoes to walk through the metal detector. I know which of my dress shoes set off the detector and which ones don't.
My brother-in-law was coming through security a few weeks ago (can't remember which airport) and they insisted that they were running everyone's shoes through the x-ray machine. He told them that the shoes he was wearing would not set off the metal detector, and the reply was that it didn't matter, since it was their policy that all shoes be screened. He said "O.K., do you have some slip on booties I can wear while I'm walking around on your nice clean floor? No? Then I guess I'll walk through with my shoes on and go sit on your nice little chair over there while you hand carry my shoes and return them to me when you're done." Needless to say he didn't make any friends that day. Not that he's the type to care about feelings, anyway.
Yeah, he got the full wand/screening routine, but since he had extra time he just grinned, relaxed, and rolled with it.
 

Sprint100

Well-Known Member
LOL That's progress for ya LOL
Since the police can't routinely harass you, it has moved to the airports and other establishments.
 

DrBenny

New Member
Carrying on Pilot Stuff

FWIW, I've never had a problem carrying on my flight bag. I suppose things run smoother if you check your flight stuff in a suitcase?

Anyone?

[ QUOTE ]
Now that FAR 61.3(I)(4) says we have to present our license to the TSA on request, I'm always worried about taking it with me when I fly commercially. I'm just waiting for the fool who says "If I take your license you won't be able to hijack the plane." I already had trouble carrying on my flight bag earlier this week:

TSA: "What's this?"
Me: "An E6-B flight computer."
TSA: "What's it for?"
Me: "Figuring wind corrections, fuel consumption, time-on-distance, and other flight computations."
TSA: "Why do you need it?"
Me: "Because I'm a pilot."
TSA: "What's this?"
Me: "A flight headset."
TSA: "What's it for?"
Me: "Blocking noise in the cockpit and talking to ATC."
TSA: "Why do you need it?"
Me: "Because I'm a pilot . . . "
TSA: "What's this?"
Me: "A kneeboard."
TSA: "What's it for?"
Me: " . . . "


They went through every item in my bag - even my timer, for goodness sake - and asked the same questions over and over. They finally let me through but looked at me like I was some kind of suspect. Talk about frustrating!

[/ QUOTE ]
 
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