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Flight School Official Surprised About Apex Man's Arrest By FBI

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A man who lived in Apex and took flight lessons in Florida at

Voyager Aviation

found himself at the center of a federal investigation. Officials at the flight school said they are surprised to hear the news about the former student.

Issay Nombo was arrested Monday in Apex by a joint FBI/Immigration and Naturalization Services anti-terrorism task force. The investigation stems from an Internet messsage congratulating Nombo for graduating from the flight school. A copy of the page was apparently found in a cave in Afghanistan.

Gary Evans, president of Voyager Aviation where Nombo attended, said the student raised no red flags for him or his staff.

"[He was a] very nice chap -- very easy-going, polite, well-dressed," Evans said.

Nombo, already an experienced pilot, paid more than $2,000 to take lessons at the flight school last summer.

"This was back in June. There was no indication that anything so terrible would happen as it did in New York in September. Now obviously, things have changed," Evans said.

Evans said the events of Sept. 11 have prompted his school and others to take more precautions.

"What we do as a courtesy now is to keep a copy of the passport and other identification in case we get a visit from the immigration office or the FBI," he said. "It's additional information for those guys if they want to see it."

Nombo allegedly fled South Africa where he was a pilot because he is wanted there on fraud and corruption charges. He and two other Tanzanian nationals are now being held in North Carolina on immigration violations. Investigators said Nombo was carrying counterfeit IDs when he was arrested.