Air Crist Is Grounded
The jet carrying Attorney General Charlie Crist to appearances was forced to land Monday afternoon after engine trouble. The plane had just left Orlando Executive Airport and was headed to Fort Myers when a loud vibration was heard from the rear of the aircraft, where the engines are.
The twin-engine Astra jet, which Crist has used frequently in his campaign, is owned by private prison executive George Zoley (the GEO Group) and Dr. Zachariah Zachariah, a Fort Lauderdale cardiologist, prominent GOP fund-raiser and previous supporter of Crist's opponent, Tom Gallagher (though Crist said he and Zachariah have been talking and he would like the doc's support).
"That's never happened," Crist said after the plane landed. "You just hope for the best and say your prayers, which I did, and it worked out." He didn't seem too perturbed: A half hour later, Crist was sound asleep in a leather reclining chair in the airport's pilot lounge.
With Crist on the abbreviated flight were the campaign's chief of staff, George LeMieux, travel aide Dayne Eagle and reporters from the St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel.
Crist is scheduled to visit Cape Coral, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton before going to the FSU-Miami football game Monday night. LeMieux said Crist would scrap the Palm Beach County stops.
Gallagher, who holds a student pilot certificate, shook his head when he heard of Crist's experience. "It could happen to anyone," Gallagher said while riding in a supporter's RV from Hialeah to the Versailles restaurant in Miami's Little Havana.