Shoulda turned left at Albuqurque

CNN/Time Warner/AOL/Netscape Meganewsopoly reports a pilot entered LaGuardia airspace and circled the Statue of Liberty without permission. The phraseology is misleading:

Despite the city’s high security level and national terrorism warning, a small plane was able to enter LaGuardia Airport airspace without permission, fly along the East River and circle the Statue of Liberty […]

If you’re assuming there are barrages of anti-aircraft missiles set up as a virtual wall against stray aircraft, assume again. The system works because people generally follow the rules. It’s like driving, there’s no effective way to prevent someone from deliberately farking the system and running a red light. And when they do, sometimes terrible things happen.

This particular pilot, Richard Langone of Atlantic Beach, NY, claimed he got confused while returning home from Poughkeepsie. This is very plausible, as the airspace is very crowded here. Check this out:

Can you find the three major airports within 20 mile radius? (Hint: John F Kennedy, Newark, and LaGuardia.)

The terminal area chart, which I don’t have access to, would show a slightly better scale and any VFR corridors he might have been flying. One thing that struck me as odd was why he wasn’t talking with ATC (air traffic control), especially in this age of paranoia. However, based on personal experience in busy areas like Chicago and Denver, I wouldn’t be too surprised if he just happened to hit ATC at a busy period — which is a joke because in that airspace, every day is a busy period, and they told him to “maintain VFR,” a nice way of saying “Ni!”

I have to credit the guy with not soiling his pants when the machine-gun armed police helicopter escorted him to Long Island. As for the penalties, the FAA will probably revoke his license for 30 days and/or insist on some remedial training.

1 thought on “Shoulda turned left at Albuqurque

  1. I am actually a student pilot around the Long Island Area, and you are very aware of the JKF and La Guardia airspace.

    If he is really from Long Island, it is a high probability that he has gone to new york a good amount of time or at least knows its outline. Which let me to believe that HE DID NOT REALLY GOT LOST, New York City is so easily spotted with all the tall building that even when I am on the ground from Newark Airport you can see New York City.

    Also, a small plane have just crash in a building on East 72nd streets, I can not wait to see what the hell happen, Nobody that flies will go that low and close to building.

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