Scotland Jails US Pilot Who Tried to Fly Drunk

Ex-Delta pilot Lawrence Russell, a recovering alcoholic, will spend 10 months behind bars
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2023 4:52 PM CDT
Updated Mar 20, 2024 8:16 AM CDT
Allegedly Drunk Pilot Arrested 35 Minutes Before NYC Flight
Delta apologized to customers and said it is assisting authorities.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
UPDATE Mar 20, 2024 8:16 AM CDT

A former Delta Air Lines pilot from Georgia will spend 10 months in jail in Scotland for trying to fly a plane across the Atlantic with a blood-alcohol level more than two times the aviation limit. Lawrence Russell Jr., 63, of Fulton County was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty. He'd shown up for the flight to New York on June 16 with a blood alcohol level just shy of 0.05%, twice the 0.02% limit for pilots, and with bottles of Jägermeister in his luggage, which was rejected by an X-ray scanner, the New York Times reports. The recovering alcoholic with "two previous instances of driving under the influence" admitted to drinking the night before and was arrested, per CNN. He also lost his job. He hopes to return to flying once his sentence is complete, the Times notes.

Jun 20, 2023 4:52 PM CDT

A Delta Air Lines pilot who was allegedly too drunk to fly was arrested just 35 minutes before a flight from Edinburgh to New York City was due to take off, authorities say. Scottish police say the 61-year-old man was arrested at the airport at 10am Friday on suspicion of violating the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, which bans pilots and other transport operators from working when they are over the legal limit for impairment, NBC reports. The law states that it is illegal to carry out an "activity which is ancillary to an aviation function" when impaired, per STV.

The pilot, identified by STV as Georgia resident Lawrence Russell Jr., appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday and was remanded into custody pending another hearing within eight days. In a statement, Delta said the Friday flight was canceled "and customers were reaccommodated on other flights." The airline said it is assisting authorities with the investigation. (More Delta Air Lines stories.)

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