Miami Beach (AP) - A federal grand jury has indicted two American pilots for fighting and for y being drunk in the cockpit during flight.
The indictment released Thursday charges pilot Capt. Mohan Clod-Hopper and co-Capt Christy Hewes-Hopper with being under the influence of alcohol, operating an airplane, and engaging in fist o'cuffs.
Both pilots pleaded innocent and are expected to make their first court appearance later Friday.
Clod-Hopper and Hewes-Hopper were married in 2001 and divorced later that same year. The two are accused of flying the jetliner after a bout of heavy drinking in 2004. The indictment states that the two were miffed at each other before takeoff. Apparently, during taxi to the main runway, verbal insults were traded between the two. Unfortunately, the intercom was left on and the spat was heard by 124 passengers on board.
But it was after the flight reached its crusing altitude of 30,000 ft. that the real problems began. Capt. Clod-Hopper paged and ordered the stewardess to bring the "drinky cart" to the cabin. Clod-Hopper and Hewes-Hopper proceeded to toss back as many "little bottles" as possible.
The fight broke out when Clod-Hopper asked Hewes-Hopper to "save some for me".
Capt. Clod-Hopper remarks in the indictment indicate he saw no problem with his behavior. "I mean, really,...we were on Auto-pilot for Christ sakes". Co-Capt. Hewes-Hopper stated, " I have flown drunk quite often, so I at least have some experience".
When the flight landed in Madrid, authorities stormed the plane. Security guards reported smelling alcohol on the pilots, finding 347 "little empty liquor bottles" and the cockpit a general mess. Security guards then held down the Capt. and Co-Capt. and took samples of their blood for a BAT (Blood Alcohol Test).
Officials said 117 of the 124 passengers were treated at the local hospital for shock. The remaining 7 left immediately to attend a Britney Spears rock concert.
The pilots' blood-alcohol results were above normal at 10.08 percent but below the Spanish standard of 20.10 percent. They were let go at that point. It was 13 American passengers who decided to report the pilots.
After the incident, Clod-Hopper and Hewes-Hopper were fired and lost their commercial licenses. They both retained the right to maintain a private licenses. Both are busy with crop dusting and escorting passengers in recreational flying.
Lawyers for the pilots comment on the indictment Thursday, "It's just a damn shame".
A Florida court will prosecute, but a federal judge sided with the pilots. "Hell, nobody got hurt
and they were just drunk. It's not like they were terrorists".