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Bush 'visit' pilot to be released

1 May 08 18:10 GMT

A pilot arrested and held in a psychiatric unit in the US after landing his plane near President George Bush's ranch is to be released.

Maurice Kirk, from St Donats, Vale of Glamorgan, was apparently trying to leave a thank-you note for Mr Bush at the ranch in Crawford, Texas.

He had previously received assistance from the US Coastguard when his plane crash-landed in the Atlantic.

His wife Kirstie said Mr Kirk would be freed between 1000 and 1100 local time.

Mr Kirk was taken into custody shortly after he landed unannounced about six miles from the ranch on Friday as part of a solo round-the-world flight challenge.

At first he was accused of being drunk because his arthritis meant he could not walk in a straight line.

Mrs Kirk announced her husband's release on her website.

Her post said: "This has been confirmed as being the understanding of the consulate representative helping him.

"He is expected to be released at 10 or 11 o'clock local time to local police in order that his belongings can be returned and then taken to his aircraft.

"I am not clear if he will then be able to fly or whether he will need to arrange transport.

"I guess that Secret Services will want to check his route before he leaves.

"As far as I can establish there remains a court hearing at 1pm relating to M's being detained but I'm not too sure about this.

"M is in pretty good spirits though perhaps suffering cabin fever at having been restricted for 4/5 days.

"On his release I'm sure that a much clearer picture of what happened will emerge."

'Liberty Girl'

Mr Kirk calls himself the "Flying Vet", although he was struck off by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons six years ago.

In February he had to ditch his 65-year-old aircraft Liberty Girl in the Atlantic ocean off the Dominican Republic, when he was rescued by US coastguards.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that a British national was detained and then hospitalised in Texas on April 25.

"We are providing consular assistance."

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