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Nation in brief: FAA investigates balloon flight

Wed., Oct. 21, 2009

Fort Collins, Colo. – The Federal Aviation Administration has opened its own investigation into the 50-mile flight of the helium balloon that briefly delayed flights at Denver International Airport after a couple reported that their 6-year-old son may have been on board, an official said Tuesday.

FAA spokesman Mike Fergus said the agency investigates civil allegations rather than criminal ones. He declined to provide details on the nature of the FAA probe or its possible outcome.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden has said investigators believe amateur storm chasers Richard and Mayumi Heene called 911 Thursday saying they thought their son, Falcon, was aboard the large helium balloon that floated away from their yard in Fort Collins in a bid to get publicity for a reality TV show.

Sleep apnea tests urged for drivers

Washington – The government should start screening truck and bus drivers, commercial pilots, train engineers and merchant sailors for sleep apnea, a disorder that is cropping up in transportation accidents, federal safety investigators said Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent letters to the federal agency that regulates bus and truck safety and the U.S. Coast Guard citing accidents in which sleep apnea was a factor. The disorder causes pauses in breathing, which can interrupt sleep and increase fatigue.

The motor carrier administration is already considering a rule to tighten its standards for medical certification of commercial drivers.

Chancellor resigns over admissions

Champaign, Ill. – University of Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman resigned Tuesday following months of pressure over special attention the school paid to politically connected applicants at its Urbana-Champaign campus and news that some were admitted over more qualified students.

The 68-year-old Herman will remain with the central Illinois school as a tenured math professor, the university said, earning $244,000 a year.


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