Erwin Washington, of Lakewood, a United Airlines pilot, was arrested in London on charges of being drunk prior to flying from London to Chicago on Monday.
The Telegraph reports that Washington seemed suspicious when he arrived at the terminal several hours before takeoff.
A member of the airline's staff reported him to the authorities and the man was subjected to a breath test and failed it. He was later charged with being over the alcohol limit to fly a plane.
He was arrested by Scotland Yard and the flight he was scheduled to fly back to the U.S. was canceled. Washington was released on bail and must return to London for his first court appearance on Nov. 20. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison, plus fines.
Under British law, pilots are forbidden from having any more than 20 micrograms of alcohol for each 100 milliliters of blood in their body. That is only equivalent of having about half a glass of beer.
The Denver Post reports that Washington was a standout on the Air Force basketball team.
Washington is an Air Force veteran and was a star basketball player at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs from 1979 to 1983, still ranking among the school's top 25 leading scorers.
He joined the Air Force for the educational opportunities, he said at the time. Before attending the academy he had served two years in the service, including as a gunner aboard a B-52 bomber.
Records indicate Washington has lived in Lakewood since 2006, after spending a year in Aurora. He previously lived in and still owns a home in Memphis, Tenn.
7 News cites a member of the cabin crew in reporting that, when authorities arrived to arrest Washington, he "allegedly barricaded himself in the cockpit for over an hour before police talked him out."