Guns, Handcuffs For Innocent Pilots
Flying|September 2021
We all deserve better.
JOHN KING

We taxied up in front of the line of four police cars as we were directed by ground control, instead of to the FBO where our friends were waiting. Martha said, “This is going to be interesting.” As we shut down the engine, we heard the bullhorn aimed at us and a voice: “Pilot, very slowly open your door. Pilot, very slowly stick both hands out the door and come out very slowly.”

Martha and I take turns flying and each can fly from either seat. In this case, I was not particularly eager to declare myself as the pilot. Finally, I “agreed” to be the pilot.

As I exited the airplane, the bullhorn’s voice said: “Pilot, keep your hands high in the air. Face away from the sound of the bullhorn and back very slowly towards it.” Next, “Pilot, put your hands together behind your back.” When they had my hands cuffed, they put me in the back of a squad car.

Next came the instructions to Martha. “Passenger, very slowly open your door. Passenger, very slowly stick both hands out the door and come out very slowly.” As Martha exited the airplane, the bullhorn’s voice said: “Passenger, keep your hands high in the air. Face away from the sound of the bullhorn and back very slowly towards it.” Next, “Passenger, put your hands together behind your back.” From my viewpoint in the squad car, I watched with distress as they cuffed Martha’s hands behind her back. It was very disturbing to see they had their pistols aimed at Martha’s head the entire time, right up until they put her into a separate squad car. It is a sight I will never forget.

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