NEW YORK – The two America West pilots accused of trying to fly drunk can be seen in a surveillance video having a ball in a Miami-area bar before putting the lives of 124 passengers in their hands.
In the video released by prosecutors, the now-fired pilots Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes drink more than a case of beer and flirt with three different women over the course of six hours.
Hugs are exchanged, and at one point on the tape Cloyd leans into one woman at the bar, brushes back her hair and appears to kiss her.
Between canoodling and consuming the men also found time to shoot some pool, finally ending the party around 4:22 a.m.
Hughes paid the whopping $122 bar tab, which included the beers, a cheeseburger and a martini.
The general manager at Mr. Moe's in Coconut Grove, Fla., said both ex-pilots were the last to leave his sports bar. And just a few hours later both men took the helm of America West flight 556.
But Cloyd and Hughes said they weren’t drunk when they reported for work -- in fact they claim they were stone-cold sober.
The fired pilots asked Circuit Judge David Young for permission to travel while awaiting their Oct. 21 trial.
The pilots’ lawyers said after both men paid a $5,500 bond each they assumed they could legally fly back home to Phoenix.
They assumed wrong, said the judge.
The pilots originally were due in court on Aug. 1 to say why they left Florida without permission, but a different judge let them stay in Phoenix to finish a 28-day alcohol rehabilitation program, which ended Aug. 2.
During an Aug. 5 court appearance, the judge told Cloyd and Hughes they should have never left Florida without the court's permission.
Young ordered them to surrender their passports, to go nowhere except home or court, and to report to the state by telephone once a week.
"We have two individuals charged with some very serious crimes," Young told the defense lawyers in a packed courtroom. "They need to understand there are consequences to their actions."
State prosecutors had told the court that the pilots, arrested after they began to taxi out from a gate at Miami International Airport, went home to Arizona without permission after posting bonds of $7,500 each.
Hughes, 41, and Cloyd, 44, pleaded not guilty to charges of operating an aircraft under the influence and operating a motor vehicle under the influence.
Both pilots had blood-alcohol levels above Florida's legal limit of 0.08 after they were ordered to return to the gate, according to court records.
They were fired by America West, which cites a zero tolerance policy. The Federal Aviation Administration revoked their licenses, but can let them reapply after a year if rehabilitation requirements are satisfied.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.