Erratic Pilot Nearly Collides with Coast Guard Helicopter

Scary story from the Palo Alto Daily News

By Banks Albach / Daily News Staff Writer

A small aircraft on Monday nearly collided twice with the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter that was pursuing it for flying only 1,000 feet off the ground in a highly populated area, authorities reported.

The pilot departed from San Francisco International Airport, looped out across the Bay at approximately 2:30 p.m. and eventually landed at the Palo Alto Airport with the chopper on his tail, Palo Alto police Sgt. Sandra Brown said. The pilot was also flying with his transponder – the plane’s radar location device – off.

Once on the ground, the 68-year-old pilot told the U.S. Coast Guard that he didn’t remember turning the radar device off and that he thought flying low over the water was legal. Regarding the near collisions, the man said he couldn’t see the helicopter when he banked left twice.

Palo Alto police were called to help write an incident report, which did not include whether the man was cited for aviation violations, Brown said. The man was not arrested.

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