Hundreds of lives were threatened over the weekend as John Prendergast la-dee-da-ed his way around the sky trying to figure out where on earth Republic Airport in Long Island was, reports The New York Post.
"I don't know what he's doing – he's going everywhere," gasped an air controller as he radioed passenger jets to tell them to steer clear of an "unknown aircraft."
A little bit lost, Prendergast made a few 360-degree turns near Kennedy before he finally figured out where he was supposed to be (not where he was, naturally) – and was guided to the Farmingdale airport by an NYPD chopper sent to get him out of the way, according to the Post.
The 69-year-old retired Navy pilot failed to make radio contact with controllers, which he should have done, after taking off Saturday morning from an airport in Martinsburg, W.VA.
All is well that ends well and you have to feel for the old guy.... but...
Then, to the shock of air traffic controllers, the blundering pilot flew farther north and turned around as if he were going to land with the passenger jets on Kennedy Runway 22L. A Boeing 747 on its way to New York from Atlanta actually flew over Prendergast's small plane at one point and had to abandon its landing, the Post reported.
I had a few rides in and out of JFK on Navy props that were being taken to Air Service located adjacent. The controllers would always yell "Speed up! Speed up!" because the other aircraft had landing speeds about 30 knots or so faster. And that screwed up their whole day.
Then in later years I was with a customer in his old restored SNB Beech when he and a buddy as co-pilot managed to wander into controlled airspace at New Orleans Int'l. Now that takes real talent...