By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about the incident that led to John and Martha King, of King Schools, being handcuffed and detained because of a law enforcement database error. While I an sorry that this had to happen to innocent people, at least the problem is now getting some attention from the aviation member organizations. Because the Kings are so well known, it looks like there will be a full investigation into just what happened.
The sad fact is that just being a pilot seems to brand us as potentially dangerous in the minds on many law enforcement agencies. There was no reason for four cars full of police to draw guns on the Kings or to handcuff them and put them in the back of patrol cars (you can hear John tell the scary story at Aero-News. Part1 is here and part 2 here). A few minutes online or possibly a call to the FAA should have cleared up the mistaken identity without the need for force.
Apparently, this kind of incident happens more often than we knew. As Max Trescott reported on his blog, this is not even the first time that particular airplane has been misidentified as stolen. As I said, I am sorry this had to happen to nice people like John and Martha King but I hope it will lead to some changes in how pilots are perceived and treated by police. We are not all drug runners or terrorists.