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Drunk Pilot Planned To Fly From London To Chicago

United Airlines pilot Erwin Vermont was three times the legal limit of alcohol for airplane pilots (New York Daily News) when he was intercepted by authorities.

That's not to say his blood alcohol concentration was 0.24 percent, a truly frightening prospect, since pilots thankfully are held to a much lower threshold.

No, Washington had 31 micrograms of hooch per 100 milliliters of blood, which translates to just under 0.08 percent BAC. The legal limit for pilots is 9 micrograms per 100 milliliters, which about 0.02 percent and probably attainable by having just one moderately strong drink.

He wouldn't have been arrested if he'd been given a breathalyzer test after being pulled over in his car, but things are different tens of thousands of feet in the air. Take-off and landing require more finesse, pilots are usually responsible for more than 120 passengers and there's no such thing as a "minor" plane collision.

Washington was about to fly the trans-Atlantic jet from London's Heathrow airport to Chicago when a fellow crew member allegedly smelled booze on his breath. The article says that the flight's takeoff was "imminent" when the flight was halted and a presumably sober pilot took his place.

The incident happened in November and Washington was found guilty by a Uxbridge Magistrates Court of, what do they call it? Attempted Flying Under the Influence? He faces two years in jail and a fine.

The 51-year-old pilot is an Air Force Academy graduate and ex-B52 gunner.