Helicopters and Hangings

Re: Drug-smuggling Gangs High On Helicopters

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Helicopter flight-school operators don’t check students’ backgrounds, and criminal-record checks are not required for licence approval.

Smuggling by chopper is a “very serious” border-integrity and public-safety issue, Langlie said. “We’ve seen a lot of smuggling by air from Canada into the U.S.”

Sometimes the pilot trainees drop out of pilot school once they know just enough to handle the machine.

Johannes Vates, chief flight instructor at Okanagan Mountain Helicopters, said Snow raised no suspicions, even when he dropped out several weeks before completing his four-month basic-training course. “He was quiet and polite,” Vates said.

Authorities allege that 24-year-old Sam Lindsay-Brown, another B.C. pilot, was involved in the same ring as Snow. He was arrested in February after landing near Spokane, Wash., with a load of marijuana and ecstasy, according to police.

Four days later, he hung himself in the Spokane County jail.

Lindsay-Brown started training at Chinook Helicopters in Abbotsford in December 2007. Like Vates, Chinook Helicopters owner Cathy Press says little can be done to check on students.

An employee of the school who asked not to be named said: “Sam was super. None of the other students could believe he was involved in smuggling.”

So two super, quiet, polite young men learn to fly helicopters and try to make big money smuggling into the US. They get busted, one is sentenced to 4 years in a cage and the other hangs himself in cells. Meanwhile the flow of drugs and money across the border continues uninterrupted by air, sea and land.

That’s one ruined life and one dead young man on your conscience, prohibitionists. What a waste.