McDuffie official questioned after airport complaint

Thursday, July 9, 2009 10:09 AM
Last updated 8:34 PM
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THOMSON, Ga. -- Federal authorities have now taken over the investigation of an elected official and his brother in McDuffie County stemming from reported threats made against an aircraft pilot at the local airport Wednesday night.

McDuffie County Commissioner Paul McCorkle (center) and his brother, Sammy (left), make written statements on the hood of a McDuffie County Sheriff's Department vehicle as deputies confer in the background Wednesday evening at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. Both men remained under investigation Thursday morning for an incident involving threats against an aircraft Wednesday evening.  Billy W. Hobbs/ The McDuffie Mirror
Billy W. Hobbs/ The McDuffie Mirror
McDuffie County Commissioner Paul McCorkle (center) and his brother, Sammy (left), make written statements on the hood of a McDuffie County Sheriff's Department vehicle as deputies confer in the background Wednesday evening at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. Both men remained under investigation Thursday morning for an incident involving threats against an aircraft Wednesday evening.

McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall said the probe was turned over to investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon.

“We’ve done as much as we can with the case and now we’ve put it in the hands of federal authorities,” Sheriff Marshall said.

An investigator with the sheriff’s department questioned McDuffie County Commissioner Paul McCorkle and his brother, Sammy McCorkle, at the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center until about midnight Wednesday. Neither man has been charged with a crime.

Paul McCorkle, who is in his first-term, told The McDuffie Mirror on Wednesday night that he and his brother drove to the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport after a low-flying aircraft passed over his mother’s home off Wrightsboro Road about 7:30 p.m. Family members were out eating pizza on the home’s patio at the time.

Mr. McCorkle said he called the airport to find out who owned the plane, but the personnel there would not provide any information.

Witnesses said two men walked into the airport and then through automatic doors that lead to the tarmac where the aircraft sat, awaiting departure. Outside, at least one of the men accosted the aircraft and its pilot, reportedly threatening to shoot down the plane if it flew over homes that low again.

The men then left the airport, but were picked up by lawmen less than half an hour later at another home on Wrightsboro Road and taken back to the airport where they gave written statements. They later were taken from the airport to the law enforcement center for additional questioning. Mr. McCorkle refused to comment further about the incident after a second round of questioning late Wednesday

Repeated attempts to reach an official with FAA for comment about the ongoing investigation were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon.

Local authorities spent Thursday investigating the incident. Sheriff Marshall said he and his investigator went to the airport, interviewed airport personnel and examined the aircraft in a hangar for visible damages. He reported no visible damage.

All of the statements, as well as the incident report, will be provided to FAA investigators, Sheriff Marshall said, noting the incident report would not be made available to the public because of the ongoing investigation.

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thoga
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thoga 07/09/09 - 10:17 am
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can you say

can you say Redneck???????????????????????????????

SC-LSU-Fan
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SC-LSU-Fan 07/09/09 - 10:46 am
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Way to show some leadership,

Way to show some leadership, boys!!!

Dixieman
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Dixieman 07/09/09 - 10:49 am
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Hey, I'm a politician...I can

Hey, I'm a politician...I can order you to do ANYTHING!

Lost In Translation
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Lost In Translation 07/09/09 - 10:51 am
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Why is it that every time

Why is it that every time something happens someone always yells redneck or only in the south? How about we start using other racial slurs every time we see a video surveillance camera with other races committing crimes with evidence? Get real people!!! Get the chip off of your shoulder!!! It's ok for one race to use slurs against everyone else, but when someone uses a slur against you it's the end of the world!!!

wise ole man
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wise ole man 07/09/09 - 11:17 am
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i would hope the airport

i would hope the airport would also investigate who and why this airpalne was flying so low- was it an investigation or just some smuck being silly. I think this would scare me as well if I saw this plane flying so dangerously low.

420Time
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420Time 07/09/09 - 11:20 am
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Lost In Translation you must

Lost In Translation you must be naive. It happens all the time. Just this time you belong to the group being disparaged!!!

noway
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noway 07/09/09 - 11:24 am
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The low-flying plane must

The low-flying plane must have caused them to drop their pizza. :-) Why didn't they just lodge a complaint with the airport when they called instead of taking matters into their own hands. Wow, the power they think they must have...I agree, rednecks!

BOBO
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BOBO 07/09/09 - 11:25 am
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look man dont bother us while

look man dont bother us while we r eating pizza and drinking Bug, you get it? I bet they live near the airport and expect airplanes not to bother them?.......GO HOME RED NECK

HHSgrad
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HHSgrad 07/09/09 - 12:35 pm
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The McCorkle's mothers house

The McCorkle's mothers house is very near the airport. "Just through the woods" so to speak. Airplanes fly over this house all the time to land and during take-off. Apparently, the plane had to be very low for them to get irrate about it because planes do fly over their house all the time. I agree that they could have handled the situation a little different, but when you get mad and angry - you don't always think rational.

chattie888
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chattie888 07/09/09 - 04:30 pm
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was alcohol involved in this

was alcohol involved in this incident?the mcduffie sheriff put at test on these guys to see if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol to make them irrational enough to make threats against the pilots life and storm the air port.i've heard that these people are not very competent in there investagations before.especially when it involves leading citizens in this county.whoever heard of pizza and no beer anyway.this should set off a red light of sorts to a trained law enforcement.

WAG
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WAG 07/09/09 - 06:31 pm
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Just who do they think they

Just who do they think they are? Arrest them

Ole School
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Ole School 07/09/09 - 10:54 pm
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Mcorkles think they own all

Mcorkles think they own all of McDuffie county , it is time to put them in their place !

Ode
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Ode 07/10/09 - 12:18 pm
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Just more small town idiot

Just more small town idiot politicians who think they can do as they please with total disregard for the law and rights of other people. Hope they get prosecuted/sued to the fullest extent possible.

AAQueen
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AAQueen 07/10/09 - 01:24 pm
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The plane must have been

The plane must have been flying extremely low for them to put their careers on the line like that.

LouLou
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LouLou 07/10/09 - 02:44 pm
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Has anyone considered the

Has anyone considered the pilot's side of this? Having someone jump you and attempt to shoot you before knowing what's going on? I agree with OleSchool and Ode. They are IDIOTS!

AgilDog
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AgilDog 07/10/09 - 02:46 pm
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Threatening to shoot down an

Threatening to shoot down an aircraft is a federal offense and can be considered a terrorist act. These two idiots (just my opinion) should be brought in by the FBI and/or Homeland Security and made an example of. And, yes, I am a pilot.

Georgia09
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Georgia09 07/10/09 - 02:53 pm
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Who do you think you people

Who do you think you people are? I think you all should get your facts straight before you starting pointing fingers and name calling! That is what is wrong with people and America today! If it is printed in the paper it must be true right! Please! You people are so ignorant! And Ole School do you even know the family? You can’t even spell their name correctly…even when it is printed right in front of you! Someone should put you in your place!

diggler
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diggler 07/10/09 - 03:02 pm
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A little research first,

A little research first, before we jump to conclusions. I'm assuming the address in question is 3011 Wrightsboro Rd. This is about 1.5 mi from the approach end of Rwy 10 (KHQU) and about 1000 ft displaced from the runway centerline. On the evening in question, winds were from the east, favoring Rwy 10. If I was flying the NDB Rwy 10 approach as published by the FAA, I would very likely fly right over that address at an MDA of 1020 ft MSL (522 ft above the ground). So exactly how low is low to anger this elected County official? After all, you have to fly low to land--it's a pre-requesite to landing! The public and the Commissioner should read and understand CFR Title 14, Part 91 before getting too excited about airplanes coming and going from airports. In VFR conditions in this case, flying below the published 522 ft is legal because the minimum safe altitudes do not apply when arriving and departing from an airport. This is a common complaint from people who choose to live on the arrival and departure ends of long-existing and established airports. The only issue in question here is if the FAA decides "careless and reckless" operation by the pilot was a player.

jameshays
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jameshays 07/10/09 - 03:04 pm
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What we don't know is just

What we don't know is just how low the plane was flying. They could have been well within their legal limits and doing nothing wrong. How low is too low is a matter of opinion, but the law gives us a finite ruling. Those pilots are innocent until proven guilty. The politician, on the other hand, threatened another man's life. So, either way, the politician was in the wrong. I'm sure the politician can't be prosecuted on the threat alone unless that threat was being planned or carried out.

Georgia09
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Georgia09 07/10/09 - 03:23 pm
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“Threatened another mans

“Threatened another mans life” Get real! HOW? There were no weapons involved; no one was even hurt or close to being hurt! And if I am a pilot in an airplane why am I scared of a man on the ground even if I have landed…come on! You people act like this airport is Hartsfield Int. Airport! This airport is smaller than most houses and people have driveways longer than the runway! This has been blow totally out of pre-portion and people like you all are to blame!

Georgia09
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Georgia09 07/10/09 - 03:33 pm
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Sorry "proportion" for you

Sorry "proportion" for you school teachers!

dcarrara
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dcarrara 07/10/09 - 03:43 pm
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Ok lets put all these rumors

Ok lets put all these rumors to rest. Here is the real story. when we arrived at HQU the weather was 700 scattered. as we descended we had the field in site and cancelled our IFR clearence. we entered a left base just below the clouds when we turned final i would say we were about 700 ft above the ground. visabilty was a little low so we kept the pattern in close as we didnt want to lose site of the airport. we were on glide path as we rolled wings level and on speed. We manuvered around a couple Turkey Buzzards and landed with passengers. After we landed i was notified of a nieghbors complaint of a low flying aircraft. We aknowledged the complaint and thought no more of it as we debark our passengers. We loaded up new passenger and started to taxi out when we heard pounding on the side of the plane just below my window. then we heard the door attempting to open. At that point I shut down both engines and opened the door stepped down on the steps to block any entrance to the plane with my copilot backing me up. Threats were made and you know the rest. This is the pilot and copilot typing this letter and all the facts. So draw you own conclusion.

dcarrara
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dcarrara 07/10/09 - 03:50 pm
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sorry for all the typos as im

sorry for all the typos as im expecting my passengers any minute and didn't proof read

diggler
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diggler 07/10/09 - 04:11 pm
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dcarrara, thanks for the

dcarrara, thanks for the details. Looks like you've got CFR 91.11 "Prohibition on interference with crewmembers" and tons of case law history on this to support you. Good luck with the case and keep us posted!

Georgia09
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Georgia09 07/10/09 - 04:15 pm
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OK so if you are the pilot

OK so if you are the pilot and co pilot were you both really that scared and threatened by two older white men in aqua blue shirts knocking at the window of your plane? It just sounds silly looks to be more like a big misunderstanding between both parties.

AgilDog
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AgilDog 07/10/09 - 04:40 pm
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Ahh - ignorance...it must be

Ahh - ignorance...it must be blissful!

Georgia09
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Georgia09 07/10/09 - 04:46 pm
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Also to my knowledge the

Also to my knowledge the McCorkle’s were living there long before there was an airport. I am sure they do not choose to live by it. Someone chose to build an airport very close to them.

oldenuff2nobetter
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oldenuff2nobetter 07/10/09 - 04:57 pm
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Georgia09, What does the

Georgia09, What does the McCorkle's living close to the airport have to do with the "price of cotton'?

Georgia09
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Georgia09 07/10/09 - 04:59 pm
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I am sorry I don't understand

I am sorry I don't understand oldenuff2nobetter

oldenuff2nobetter
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oldenuff2nobetter 07/10/09 - 05:02 pm
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My question is, "Why would

My question is, "Why would the McCorkle family living close to the airport be an issue in this case? If they didn't want an airport built close to their property, they should have purchased the property to prevent the airport.

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