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For the week of January 9 - 15, 2002


Long-distrance bomb threat temporarily closes airport

Express Staff Writer

Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey was closed for half an hour Thursday following a bomb threat made over the phone by a jail inmate in Montgomery, Ala., who had recently been convicted of making threats against the president. The bomb threat appears to have been a hoax.

Sun Valley Aviation employee Cory Anderson said he received a collect call about 4:10 p.m., for which he declined to accept the charges. However, he said, he heard a voice say, "There’s a bomb on the field" before the line went dead. Anderson said he received four more collect calls during the next few minutes, and tried to accept them but was cut off each time.

Hailey Police Chief Brian McNary said the Sun Valley Aviation offices and the airport terminal were evacuated at about 5 p.m. while three Hailey police officers and National Guardsmen searched them. When no bomb was found, the airport resumed operations at about 5:30 p.m.

Spokespeople for Horizon Air and SkyWest Airlines said the closure did not affect their flights, though a SkyWest bus headed to the Twin Falls airport was delayed for about half an hour.

Anderson said he received two more collect calls later that evening and was able to talk to the caller at about 7 p.m. He said the caller identified himself as Jason Cates, and told him a bomb was going to be placed on the first Horizon Air flight to arrive at the airport Friday morning.

"He was coming across not as a threat, but as if he was trying to tell us that as a warning," Anderson said.

However, he said, the caller then told him that "if all the prisoners of the Mongomery, Alabama, jail weren’t released, there would be more problems."

McNary said the call was traced to a pay phone at the Montgomery City Jail.

Wayne Plylar, supervisory deputy at the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Montgomery, said Cates is a federal inmate at the jail awaiting sentencing.

According to the clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Cates was convicted last June of the federal crime of using interstate communication to make threats against the president.

McNary said Cates obtained the Hailey airport’s number from tourism brochures. He said investigation of the bomb threats has been turned over to the FBI.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.