Best Criminal Conviction of the
Past Year (2006)

The Two Drunk Pilots

Those of us with Bacchanalian tendencies have been there: After a night of imbibing, you haul your carcass out of bed and into the shower, expecting hangover pangs to hit as soon as the fog clears. Instead, as the bilious fumes rise from your gut, a different sensation arises and you realize you're still drunk. Wondering if such a thing is possible, you begin reviewing the previous evening's events and realize that, sure enough, you stopped drinking only three hours ago. Which is when most of us call in sick. Or start slurping coffee madly. What we don't do -- what no one should ever do -- is immediately get behind the wheel. Of an airplane. But this is exactly what two drunken jackasses who worked for America West attempted to do about five hours after running up a $122 bar tab in Coconut Grove. Luckily airport workers alerted security guards that pilot Thomas Cloyd and first officer Christopher Hughes reeked of liquor as they passed through security checkpoints. The cops stopped the plane and removed the pair from the cockpit, after which they both failed Breathalyzer tests. Defense lawyers argued the two men weren't guilty of operating the plane while drunk because they never made it into the air. They were convicted June 8, 2005. In July a judge sentenced 47-year-old Cloyd, of Peoria, Arizona, to five years in prison. Hughes, age 44, of Leander, Texas, received two-and-a-half years. Everyone who's ever been an airplane passenger should send a thank-you card to Circuit Judge David Young, who handed down the stiff sentences.


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