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SkyWest Pilot Charged With Trying to Fly While Drunk at South Dakota Airport

Police said they were called to the Rapid City airport after the pilot showed up smelling of alcohol — at 8 a.m.
IMAGE: Rapid City airport
Rapid City Regional Airport.NBC News

An airline pilot was arrested Wednesday morning in Rapid City, S.D., and charged with attempting to fly while drunk, police said.

Police were called to Rapid City Regional Airport after Russell Joseph Duszak, 38, showed up smelling of alcohol — at 8 a.m. — Rapid City police said. Duszak, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was supposed to have flown SkyWest Flight 4574 to Salt Lake City, but instead, he was hauled off the plane and arrested on a charge of operating an aircraft under the influence of alcohol.

The flight was delayed for more than two hours, finally taking off about 10:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET) after a replacement pilot was rounded up, NBC station KNBN reported.

Passengers learned more about what was happening from police than they did from the airline, which issued a short statement apologizing for what it described only as "a crewmember issue." The pilot is barred from flying pending an investigation, it said.

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris, however, was quite forthcoming on Twitter:

Duszak, who federal records show has been a licensed commercial pilot since 2001, was released from the Pennington County Jail on $300 bail. If he's convicted of the misdemeanor charge, he could spend up to a year in jail and face a $2,000 fine.