Alarm as pilot is grounded on drink-fly allegation

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A pilot who allegedly flew an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol is being investigated after being forced to land by alarmed air traffic controllers.

The 63-year-old pilot was escorted from the four-seater airplane at Southampton airport after an erratic landing in which he was said to have swerved off the runway and almost hit a fence. The man refused to give a breath- test to police but was seen by a police surgeon who confirmed he had been drinking. His aircraft keys were confiscated and he was released pending an inquiry by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The man, from Denham, Buckinghamshire, had been flying to Jersey when he strayed into London air space on Friday. Air-traffic controllers at Heathrow contacted the light aircraft but were concerned with the response they received from the pilot. A CAA spokesman said the man could be charged with endangering aircraft or with endangering people on the ground.