Alleged drunken pilots miss arraignment

MIAMI, July 22 (UPI) -- A former pilot and co-pilot for America West Airlines failed to show up for their arraignment Monday on charges they tried to fly a jetliner while they were legally drunk.

Circuit Judge Richard Margolius asked why they had left south Florida, and set a new court date of Aug. 1 for Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes of Gilbert, Ariz. Defense lawyers had already entered innocent pleas, and a second court appearance was set for Aug. 5 to schedule the trial.


Defense attorney William Pearson said the men had been told by their bail bondsman they could go home to Arizona if they wanted to.

"Our situation is that we would like to face trial on the facts and evidence, and we would like the opportunity to have them judged based on that," he said.

The prosecution asked that $7,000 bond on each of them be revoked.

"Our position is that they need leave from the court if they want to leave the jurisdiction," said Assistant State Attorney Ronald Ramsingh.

Cloyd, 44, and Hughes, 41, were arrested July 1 after a security official at a checkpoint in Miami International Airport told them they couldn't take coffee onto the ramp. He said he smelled alcohol on their breath and called police.


The plane, carrying 124 passengers, had taxied out on the runway, but it was brought back, and Cloyd and Hughes took Breathalyzer tests. Police said they registered levels above the 0.08 state limit for driving and double the Federal Aviation Administration limit for flying a jetliner.

Cloyd and Hughes of Gilbert, Ariz., both face possible prison time if they are convicted. They are charged with one felony each, and two misdemeanors.

Police records show it was Cloyd's fourth arrest on alcohol-related charges, but the airline said it knew nothing about any of the incidents.

The two men have been fired by the airline pending an appeal by the Airline Pilots Association.

Circuit Judge David Young will preside over the hearings next month and the trial. He is on vacation this week, and Margolius was sitting in for him.

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