The Missouri Highway Patrol arrested a suspected drunk pilot after the Piper Cherokee he was flying ran out of fuel and crash-landed on a section of Interstate 70 in Grain Valley, Missouri, this past Friday morning. There were no injuries reported, and the plane was damaged but looks to be repairable.
Arrest records identified the pilot as 35-year-old John Seesing of Prairie Village, Kansas. FAA records list a John Seesing with a Student Pilot certificate issued on January 7, 2020.
Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft fly low over the Interstate and watched in amazement as the airplane hit the pavement, spun around and hit a concrete barrier at approximately 2:45 a.m.
You might be wondering just how the Highway Patrol can arrest someone suspected of flying drunk when the law is clear that flying enforcement is exclusively the FAA’s beat. We’re wondering too, and our best guess is, the charge will only reflect the very short time that the suspected FUI guy was on the roadway. We’re doubtful even that will stick. The FAA, however, might throw the book at someone in this same situation if the facts determine that the pilot was indeed under the influence. Even then, because he’s a student pilot (assuming the FAA’s pilot registry is up to date), they might have something to say about that. Moreover, running out of avgas is a no-no, and the FAA can always throw a reckless and careless violation at a pilot who runs the tanks dry. Some local media outlets are reporting that the pilot was arrested for drug and firearms charges, too.
According to flight tracking records, the hapless pilot’s journey began the day before, landing at Northwest Florida Beaches Airport around 12 noon, then continuing the trek towards Kansas City at 5:45 p.m. It’s reported that the aircraft made several stops along the way, prior to the crash landing on Friday near Grain Valley at 2:45 a.m. The aircraft was subsequently towed off the highway about 5:00 a.m. on the morning of the accident, just in time for vehicle traffic to return to normal for the morning commute.
The Highway Patrol, the FAA and the NTSB are investigating this incident.