First, Inhofe reportedly scares “the crap” out of people. Seriously.
Back in October, Inhofe decided to land his airplane at a south Texas airport on a runway with a big, yellow “X” on it. Now, depending on your familiarity with aviation, big yellow Xs on runways could theoretically mean one of two things: “here be treasure” or “this runway is closed, please don’t try to land here.”
Which option did Inhofe choose?
Of course, the construction workers on the runway (who may or may not have been digging for treasure) were not delighted to see a 76-year-old climate-change denier in a twin-engine Cessna bearing down upon them and their vehicles.
“He scared the crap out of us,” Sidney Boyd, who was working on the runway at the time told the FAA, in a recorded phone conversation posted on The Smoking Gun on April 13. “He damn near hit a big red dually, hopscotched over him and landed on the runway anyway.”
Of the dually driver, Boyd said: “I think he actually wet his britches, he was scared to death. I mean, hell, he started trying to head for the side of the runway. The pilot could see him, or he should have been able to, he was right on him.”
Apparently, the workers were cramping Mountain’s style, since Boyd told the FAA, after landing, Inhofe came to the workers and (we imagine while wearing “Top Gun” shades while a congressional staffer carried a boom box blasting “Danger Zone”) demanded to know, “What the hell is this? I’m supposed to have unlimited airspace.”
To avoid enforcement action by the FAA, the senator completed a remedial training program.
After the audio came out, Inhofe released a statement saying: “This is an old story, and the FAA and I have long considered the matter closed. … I have completed the program required by the FAA, and this matter is over.”
About that second story: Inhofe recently said he believed the November election that ousted former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo was fraudulent. Gbagbo, an evangelical Christian who is friends with Inhofe, apparently agreed, because for the past several months, he refused to step down to make way for the elected leader, a Muslim named Alassane Ouattara.
Gbagbo’s refusal to step aside sparked fighting between the two camps, with French United Nations troops backing Ouattara’s forces and Inhofe backing Gbagbo. Eventually, Gbagbo was arrested.
Inhofe, who had regularly visited Ivory Coast and Gbagbo prior to the election, said he probably would not go back and was quoted in The Oke as saying, “I would have helped to have tried to assist them in escaping if I could have. But the French were just relentless.” That’s right: Inhofe said the French military was “relentless.”
Moving on, could it be that the reason Inhofe didn’t fly in Maverick-style to rescue his wingman Gbagbo is because he finally pushed the system too far? Was it because he was grounded by some bureaucrat who just doesn’t understand that Inhofe is one hell of an instinctive pilot — maybe too good — who is just testing his own limits and the limits of those around him, pushing the envelope between exhilaration and fear, finding that place in his mind that screams “this is madness” and pushing further, until consciousness and dream blend into one and the world narrows down to a singularity of utter clarity, and that now because of some desk jockey, he has to watch helplessly from the sidelines, unable to fly in and rescue his buddy during his greatest hour of need?
Nah. We didn’t think so.