Fallout Continues Over Kings' Gunpoint Drama

The image of John and Martha King in handcuffs is still the prime topic of hangar conversations around the country. With the Santa Barbara Police defending their actions (and apologizing to the Kings), the blame for the snafu now falls most heavily on the El Paso Intelligence Center, which contacted the Santa Barbara PD with only minutes to prepare for intercepting the allegedly stolen aircraft. By now, most know that the registration number on the Kings' 2009 Skyhawk was the same number formerly assigned to a 1968 Cessna 150 that had been stolen in 2002, canceled in 2005, and re-issued to the new Skyhawk on the production line.

According to a SBPD spokesman, a call from EPIC carries the same weight as a call from the FBI, and the officers conducted the operation appropriately. He said the Kings' innocent appearance was irrelevant and the guns-drawn "felony takedown" approach is used since the police could not know whether or not the Kings were being hijacked by an unseen passenger in the airplane. The Kings have joined GA advocacy groups in calling for improved coordination between entities such as EPIC and the FAA in striking data on stolen aircraft once the tail number has been taken off the register. And in a true entrepreneurial spirit, Kings Schools' next project is — you guessed it — a training video for police departments on how best to conduct a felony stop on light aircraft.