John and Martha King Held By Gunpoint Over Aircraft Tail Number


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John and Martha King Held By Gunpoint Over Aircraft Tail Number

By Daniel Baxter

August 31, 2010 - The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is calling for a review of the government’s process for obtaining, using and sharing aircraft registration information in light of the events that took place with the founders of the King School, John and Martha King.

On Saturday John and Martha King filed an IFR flight plan and flew in their Cessna 172 aircraft, N50545, from San Diego to Santa Barbara Airport, California.

Upon landing the King’s were instructed taxi their aircraft to the hanger one. Upon exiting the aircraft, the couple was stormed by the Santa Barbara police. They were told to put their hands up and detained by gun point.


What the King’s did not know was earlier in the day federal authorities were monitoring flights and checking aircraft tail numbers and that the King’s aircraft came up as a stolen aircraft when they filed their IFR flight plan. In 2002, a Cessna 150 with the same tail number N50545 was reported stolen.

However, what authorities did not know was that tail number had been canceled by the FAA and reassigned on January 13, 2009, and that the King’s leased aircraft was owned by the Cessna Aircraft Company. The reassignment of the tail number was never communicated to other government agencies and the Santa Barbara police was requested to meet and detain the occupants of the aircraft upon landing. The King’s have reported the events were “unnecessarily dangerous and uncomfortable.”

“We believe there is an urgent need for the creation of a joint government-industry group that can expeditiously conduct a top-to-bottom review of the process to ensure that incidents such as this one never occur in the future,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.

“We recognize that law enforcement officials need to have a reliable source of up-to-date aircraft information to prevent illegal activities,” Bolen continued.  “At the same time, we believe the government process for using the data appears woefully inadequate.


“This isn’t the first time outdated information has resulted in a situation like the one involving the Kings, but we want it to be the last.

We’re asking government leaders to look at this unfortunate event as an opportunity for industry and government to collaborate on a solution that will prevent similar incidents in the future.”

The Kings are two well-known and highly respected professionals within the general aviation community, and the school they founded is a Member Company with The National Business Aviation Association.
  Interview With John King and AOPA President


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