MUSLIM (“I don’t need to learn how to land”) sues American flight school for rejecting him as a student
Pan Am International Flight Academy refused to let a pilot use a flight simulator because he is Muslim and reported him to the FBI, the commercial pilot claims in court. Khalifa Derenkai is suing the Las Vegas-based school in Federal Court.
Courthouse News Khalifa (translation ‘Caliphate’) Derenkai says he immigrated to the United States from Eritrea in 1987 and worked for foreign airlines for years as a commercial pilot. Through the Utah Department of Workforce Services, he sought training from Pan Am to get a domestic commercial pilot’s license.
Derenkai says he was scheduled for flight simulator training in March 2014, but Pan Am school manager Phil Spessard looked up his LinkedIn profile and denied him access to a flight simulator.
Two flight instructors made him take a written exam, which was not mentioned in school documents, and told him he missed a qualifying score by 2 points, Derenkai says. He claims that the exam is “not part of any known FAA or pilot certification requirement,” and that after he completed it, agents from the FBI Terrorism Task Force arrived and questioned him for about 30 minutes.
Derenkai says two flight instructors asked him if he was Muslim and laughed when he told them that he knew the Spessard was responsible for the “unfair treatment” he had received.
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