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America West Pilots Plead Innocent

July 16, 2002

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MIAMI (AP) _ Two America West pilots have pleaded innocent to charges they were drunk when they tried to fly a jetliner.

Thomas Cloyd, 44, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 41, entered the pleadings last week in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. They are each charged with a felony count of operating an aircraft under the influence and operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

Authorities say the pilots had blood-alcohol levels above Florida’s legal limit of 0.08 while at the helm of a Phoenix-bound jetliner awaiting takeoff July 1. The pilots were ordered to return the plane to the gate at Miami International airport July 1.

A security screener had alerted authorities after noticing that Cloyd and Hughes smelled of alcohol.

The Federal Aviation Administration revoked the pilots’ licenses. They will be able to reapply for licenses after a year.

Hughes’ attorney, James Rubin, said Tuesday he was in the process of reviewing the evidence and that it was too early to discuss it. Cloyd’s attorney didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Cloyd pleaded innocent July 9 and Hughes a day later.

Arraignment was set for July 22. They are each free on $7,000 bond.

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