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FAA revokes pilot's license after erratic flight

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Federal Aviation Administration has revoked the license of a pilot who it says made a reckless four-hour flight last week over the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area.

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The FAA said pilot John V. Salamone endangered the lives of others and forced air traffic controllers to divert numerous aircraft to prevent possible collisions during an erratic flight January 15.

The FAA ordered Salamone to mail in his pilot certificate or surrender it at the agency's office in Jamaica, New York. He can appeal the decision but would not be allowed to keep his license during the appeal.

Salamone, 44, who is president of a concrete company, could not be reached for comment.

The Pottstown, Pennsylvania, pilot flew his 1967 Piper Cherokee aircraft over Philadelphia and Atlantic City, New Jersey -- twice entering controlled airspace without permission. At one point the plane flew near a nuclear power plant, prompting security concerns, officials said.

Salamone's blood-alcohol content registered 0.13 in a preliminary breath test administered after he landed, according to Bruce Castor, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania's district attorney.

In Pennsylvania, a motorist is considered to be operating under the influence with a blood-alcohol ratio of 0.08. The limit is 0.04 for operating an aircraft.

Law enforcement officials were unsure about criminal charges against the pilot since state law is designed to deal with highway driving, Castor said last week.

On January 15, an air traffic controller noticed Salamone's single-engine plane on radar about 6:30 p.m. ET, about 15 miles northwest of Philadelphia International Airport, flying southeasterly toward Philadelphia, said FAA spokesman Jim Peters. The pilot crossed into the airport's restricted airspace without asking for permission, Peters said.

The pilot headed toward Atlantic City and Ocean City before trying to land at a smaller airport south of Philadelphia, he said.

The pilot did not land, re-entering the Philadelphia airport's airspace. Air traffic controllers contacted the pilot and asked he if he wanted to land in Philadelphia, Peters said.

He instead headed back to Pottstown Limerick Airport, his home airport, where he made an attempt to land before flying over a nuclear power plant, Peters said. A police helicopter intercepted the plane and forced it to land at 10:17 p.m., he said.

The FAA said last week Salamone had no prior aviation accidents, incidents or enforcement actions.

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