Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Man accused of taking small plane on joy ride

Associated Press Updated: March 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Police arrested a man accused of taking a small plane from the Boulder City Airport without permission, then taking off and landing repeatedly in a drunken joyride.

Paul Michael Weddle, 47, was booked into the Clark County Detention Center early Monday on suspicion of piloting an aircraft while under the influence, taking a vehicle without the owner's consent and making a false statement to an officer. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

According to a police report, an employee with sightseeing company Scenic Airlines reported someone stole the plane and had been taking off and landing several times a little before midnight Sunday.

Police who responded said they watched the airplane taxi around at a high rate of speed and make two 360-degree turns before coming to a stop close to another aircraft. The pilot appeared to be "having a hard time operating/controlling the airplane," according to the arresting officer.

When the pilot eventually got out of the plane, police said, he didn't comply with officers' commands and instead reached into his pockets. An officer then tackled him and cuffed him, according to the report.

Weddle, who police said smelled of alcohol and was slurring his speech, reportedly told officers he took the plane to complete the takeoff and landing portions of his pilot's license.

His blood alcohol level was later measured at 0.13 percent, authorities said.

It's unclear exactly how Weddle got into the airport in the middle of the night, although he appears to be a former employee of a tour airline company that operates out of the Boulder City Airport, according to airport director Brok Armantrout.

Mark Slack, vice president of administration at Scenic Airlines parent company Grand Canyon Airlines, declined to say whether Weddle had been affiliated with his company or discuss how Weddle might have gained access to the plane.

Federal Aviation Administration records show a Paul Michael Weddle of Henderson has a pilot's license.

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