KVVU Fox 5 in Las Vegas reported this week that Paul Michael Weddle stole a plane, took off from Boulder City Municipal Airport in Nevada on Sunday evening and flew the plane drunk. A crime that is rare in this area.
The police were notified Sunday evening around 11:30pm by a Scenic Airlines employee that someone had stolen a Cessna Caravan from the Boulder City Municipal Airport and taken off and landed three times. Before police could arrive on the scene, Paul Michael Weddle was seen taking off and landing two more times by witnesses.
Like a scene out of a movie, Paul Michael Weddle recklessly sped the plan along the tarmac, made a sharp three hundred and sixty-degree turn and nearly hit several other planes on the runway.
According to police, they attempted to get him to stop the plane, but he ignored their pleas before finally disembarking. Paul Michael Weddle than reached for his waistband but was tackled by police, who believed he might have been reaching for a weapon. The item on his belt, however, was simply a radio. Police said, although Paul Michael Weddle was not seriously injured during the arrest, he did receive a bruise on his face.
Police observed at the time of the arrest that Paul Michael Weddle may have been under the influence of alcohol. According to police reports, Paul Michael Weddle was having difficulty speaking and his eyes were bloodshot. The police administered a blood alcohol concentration test and found his BAC was well above the legal limit at 0.13%.
According to police, Paul Michael Weddle has been arrested for operating an aircraft under the influence of alcohol as well as obstructing a police officer.
Why was Paul Michael Weddle flying a plane?
Why does anyone do anything while they are drunk? According to Paul Michael Weddle he decided it would be the perfect time to “try to complete the takeoff and landing portion of his pilot’s license.” Although this was his explanation at the time of the arrest, police have not verified this information, and note that even if this was true, there is not a flight school in Boulder City.
While it’s not uncommon for drivers to operate a motorized vehicle under the influence of alcohol, it’s unusual for a pilot to attempt to fly a plane. In the state of Nevada pilots who fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs can expect harsh federal FAA-mandated punishments, including possible prison time.
Laws for flying under the influence are outlined in Federal Aviation Regulations which are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Under current law, pilots are not allowed to act or attempt to act as a crew member of a civil aircraft if any of the following apply:
- They have consumed alcohol within the last 8 hours
- They are under the influence of alcohol;
- They are under the influence of any drug which affects their faculties in any way contrary to safety;
- They have an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen.
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