CFI Falsely Accused of Flying Bombing Run

Ah hangar talk. The endless B-S-fest that us pilots just can’t seem to get enough of. I heard an interesting bit of hangar talk the other day.

An experienced flight instructor, let’s call him John Doe, steps into the FBO with his student and notices the manager looking rather flustered on the phone.

“Hey John, it’s for you. It’s the FAA, and they ain’t too happy.”

John picks up the phone and finds himself in the middle of a conference call with local FAA officials. Now this is a first.

“Were you flying in the vicinity of ____ Municipal Airport fifteen minutes ago?”


“What type of airplane were you flying Mr. Doe?”

“A Cessna 152.” An increasing feeling of dread came over John, but he knew he hadn’t done anything wrong.

“And what color was that Cessna?”

“White and Brown.”

And that was all they needed. The conversation got ugly from that point on. And John remained clueless until the accusation came:

“We have several witnesses claiming that a small high-wing aircraft, brown, dropped solid objects on the ___ University campus.”

John argued that it wasn’t him. After all, he was only practicing maneuvers with his student.

“I don’t think you understand how serious this is Mr. Doe. Two students were hit by falling objects.”

John was in deep. Not only was he looking at losing his license, there were threats of criminal prosecution. Serious stuff, and it seemed as though the committee had already made up it’s mind.

While John was turning whiter than a ghost, he overheard laughing and carrying on. At least someone was having a good day. He glanced out the window only to see another brown Cessna parked on the ramp.


John began to ignore the FAA’s call and focus intently on the conversation in the pilot’s lounge.

“Yeah, it was great! We leafletted our frat house and dropped toy footballs all over the school!”

A sigh of relief escaped John’s lips.

“Mr. Doe?” said woman who had been leading the FAA’s inquisition.

“One moment ma’am, I believe I have your culprit.”

John was off the hook.

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About the author
Pat Flannigan is a professional pilot and aviation blogger. He has been flying for fifteen years and is currently working as an airline pilot in the United States.

4 Replies to CFI Falsely Accused of Flying Bombing Run

  1. Rob Ericson says:


    I have seen that look on a person’s face before when the FSDO calls right after they return form a flight. We had an issue not too long ago in the Detroit area where a school was paint balled and toilet papered from the air. Turns out it was a kid who not only just got his license, but also was about to graduate and receive a full scholarship. If i remember correctly the license:suspended, graduate with class: didn’t, and scholarship: gone. All that for a little practical joke.

  2. M.B. says:

    Funny you should mention that incident in Detroit. I got to school with that guy now, and trust me, his lack of good decision making carries on.

  3. Sylvia says:

    Oh no! He must have been SO RELIEVED to see the other plane. What a horrible experience!

  4. Gabe says:

    wow! must have been scared beyond recognition. worst words in our language: ‘we have a phone number for you to write down, advise when ready to copy.’ yikes. at least he was innocent.

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