Another of GA's Favorite Sons Is Under Fire

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) appears largely unrepentant about his failure to access notams about a closed runway. The senator, a 10,000-hour pilot who has been flying for 50 years, landed a Cessna 340 on a closed runway at Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport in Texas on Oct. 21. The runway was marked with oversize Xs and there were men, equipment and vehicles on the runway at the time. No one on the ground was injured, nor was Inhofe or his three passengers.

The Senator told the Tulsa World newspaper that he won't promise to be more attentive to notams in the future. He said, "Pilots who fly a lot just don't do it." Inhofe released his one-page statement to the FAA, in which he cited an acrimonious relationship with the attendant at the Cameron County Airport. He said he tried to contact the airport three times on the radio but got no reply.

He wrote to the FAA, "It's important to note that I have landed at Cameron County Airport over 200 times and have used the same procedures." He added that in the past he has received airport information over the radio when requested. The senator's FAA statement said by the time he saw the Xs and the men and equipment, "it would have been marginal as to whether or not I would be able to raise the flaps and go around." He also defended his decision several days later to take off from a taxiway — another incident that the FAA is investigating.