December 18, 2008 | Dave Janney

Missing Plane’s Pilot Not Cleared to Fly

Published: December 17, 2008

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The pilot of a plane that disappeared Monday with 11 passengers aboard had only an American student-pilot license and should have never been allowed to fly, Dominican authorities said Wednesday.

The pilot, Adriano Jiménez, loaded 11 passengers into a twin-engine plane in Santiago, Dominican Republic, on Monday and filed a flight plan to land in the Bahamas, but the plane never arrived, said the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute.

The pilot sent an emergency signal about 35 minutes after takeoff, and then the plane disappeared from the radar. He was flying in low visibility, said the United States Coast Guard.

Mr. Jiménez was stripped of his Dominican pilot’s license two years ago because he had been caught flying multiengine planes when he was authorized to fly only helicopters, said Pedro Domínguez, president of the Dominican Pilots Association.

The Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday without turning up any sign of the plane or its passengers, a spokesman said.

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