'Bush took away my pilot’s licence’
May 20/08 from South Wales Echo News
Flying vet Maurice Kirk has vowed to fight to continue his worldwide tour after being deported from America and having his license taken away.
The 63-year-old, from Barry, was detained last month after landing his small Piper Cub plane near President Bush’s ranch in Texas.
He had been trying to leave a message for Mr Bush to pass on his thanks to the US Coast Guard, which rescued him after his plane crash-landed in the Carribean Sea in February.
The dad of four, whose video interview appears on icwales.co.uk, told the Echo he had been escorted to Gatwick by two US officials on Friday. After visiting the Civil Aviation Authority, he said was told his licence had been suspended.
But the 63-year-old said; “I have plans to carry on flying around Africa, go across to Nepal. I still want to fly to Everest. To be grounded is absolutely devastating. I just hope the CAA changes its mind.”
He admitted, although he was hoping to persuade the CAA to give his licence back, he was doubtful he would be allowed back to America.
Maurice, who has been a commercial and stunt pilot, had been attempting to fly around the world when he was detained by US authorities. He had also been due to give a series of lectures to schools about his adventures
travelling to different countries. Describing the events surrrounding his capture, he said he had decided to visit Texas and had been staying in Waco when he got the idea of leaving a message with the President.
"I realised that I was right near the ranch of George W and I thought I could knock on his door and leave a note to thank him for the US Coast Guard saving my life.
“But the idea went pear-shaped. Since what heppened in New York, they have decided to set up what is called Homeland Security and I got mixed up in it.”
He continued; “I landed about four miles from the ranch, about a mile outside the permanent prohibited zone. I started walking and was taking pictures of plants and animals.”
“I then heard a screech of tires behind me. I turned around carefully because I was suspicious it may be somebody of authority. I saw two armed guys coming towards me, who I now know were from the Secret Service. Before I knew it, I was on the ground in handcuffs.”
“Within 30 minutes there were 11 government vehicles there, including the FBI.”
After a week being assessed in a psychiatric hospital, he was released, but he said he was arressted within a day. He then found himself in a
“I was denied access to a telephone and any communication with my wife or with my Embassy. But I was treated well. I won’t have anything bad said against the Secret Service - they were gentlemen.”
Maurice, who has held a licence since 1964, denied committing any offence. The former vet was struck off six years ago because of convictions for offences including assault.
“The US authorities told me I had been deported because I had endangered life. They said I landed on the road outside Mr Bush’s front door. But I landed in a field four miles away. The CAA acted on the
information it was given.”
His plane - called the Liberty Girl - is still in America.
“My family were very upset,” said Maurice, whose wife Kirstie runs Barry Animal Health Centre in Tynewydd Road. My wife said the obvious; ‘You ought to know better Maurice’."
Mr Bush was in Washington at the time Mr Kirk approached the ranch.