Aviation Paranoia Continues

By now, hopefully, you've heard the story of pilot Robin Fleming's lazy glider flight one fine day last summer in the blue skies of beautiful South Carolina. Well, that's the way it should have turned out, but it didn't. Instead, that would-be great summer flight ended with Robin getting thrown in jail after a high-stakes criminal drama.

Except in this case, there was no crime involved. Not even a whiff of one. Mr. Fleming, an articulate and conscientious 70-year-old glider pilot and instructor was instead arrested simply for going flying. 

The amazing, maddening story is here with the original story here.

The risk posed by a glider flying over a electrical power plant is virtually zero. Yet, I don't fault law enforcement for checking it out. Someone reports something suspicious, it is their job to check.

But, that is where it should have stopped. They should have let the pilot be on his way (he voluntarily landed) with a hearty thank you for cooperating. But, the opposite occurred. They thought they had a 70-year old local terrorist!

After everyone was convinced no law was broken, they still wouldn't drop the charges!

Fleming waited outside the courtroom Aug. 21 as his case went before the judge. When his attorney returned and said the case would be dismissed if he agreed not to take any legal action against Darlington County law enforcement, he said, he reluctantly agreed. 

You know, we ordinary citizens are constantly told "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." If is isn't for us, why is it for law enforcement? 

Law enforcement has a tough, difficult job. But, it is incidents like this that -- correctly -- cause people to question law enforcement's competence and integrity, especially (considering the TSA) around the field of aviation. It is long past time for this nonsense to stop.


  1. He was loitering over a nuclear reactor facility. How many pilots do you know who do that and get away with it? Being an instructor, he should have known better.

  2. 1. He was in a glider, you can't "loiter" in one. I speak from experience of flying in a glider, you are continuously in motion.

    2. He was more than 1,000 ft. above the facility so it was not a violation of any Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) or any civil law.

    3. "Law" enforcement is just that. If no law is broken, trumping up an absurd "disturbing the peace" charge does nothing but breed contempt for the law and law enforcement.

    Perhaps one could argue there needs to be a law against flying over a power plant. But, until there is one there is nothing for law enforcement to enforce. As I wrote, they should have said, "thank you for cooperating" (he landed when asked even though he was not required to) and called it a day.


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