Tuesday, September 18, 2001

FBI checks lists of flight-school students

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        The FBI has asked one Tristate flight school for lists of past students, and operators of local flight training schools are bracing for the possibility of new federal requirements for their businesses.

        Bill Anderson, spokesman for Eastern Cincinnati Aviation, based at the Clermont County Airport, said FBI agents have asked for a list of the organization's flight school students for recent years.

        “We have no indication that any foreign students that we have ever trained have had anything to do with the incidents that occurred Sept. 11,” Mr. Anderson said.

        “Because we're affiliated with Sporty's Pilot Shop, which sells to pilots worldwide, the FBI asked for information on things that we have ever sold to certain persons they're investigating,” he said, adding that he had no details on the FBI investigation.

        The shop sells apparel and other flight gear to pilots.

        The issue of training foreign nationals surfaced amid reports that some of the hijackers involved in last week's terrorist attacks took flight lessons at a Florida school.

        “There may be more strict control over foreign students or something,” said Phil Schmidt, owner of Schmidt Aviation based at the Blue Ash Airport.

        Mr. Anderson and other local school operators said foreign students are rare here.

        “We just don't attract the foreign student trade. Occasionally we get one,” Mr. Schmidt said.

        There is one foreign student training at Franklin Aviation Academy based at Lunken Airport. Officials there withheld comment on the man's nationality.

        “He has a current green card,” said Mark Morgan, president of the academy. “This person's coming to me for a service, and that's what we're going to (give).”

        Meantime, business is languishing at the flight schools because of FAA restrictions set after the attacks. Only flights operating under instrument flight rules are allowed.

        That includes certified pilots operating under direction of air-traffic controllers, and who have filed specific flight plans. That excludes many training flights, operators say. It is not known when the restriction will be lifted.

        “We were essentially out of business since Tuesday,” Mr. Schmidt said.


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