CNN vote

If you think that access to aircraft should or should not be further restricted because of the incident in Florida, you may want to cast your vote in the poll at Scroll down the page to fine the poll.

Thanks for the heads up on the CNN vote.
Knee-jerk solutions are to be expected but I hope reason will prevail.

I am pleased to report that not all of the “mainstream media” are sensationalist fear-mongers on this issue. A front-page article in today’s San Jose Mercury news about security at some of the SF Bay Area airports was in my opinion surprisingly balanced on the subject, if not overly sophisticated. See

I am also encouraged that CNN, despite their consistent willingness to make mountains of molehills regarding aviation, has been giving airtime to AOPA spokesfolks.

On the whole I am not too worried that enduring overly zealous regulations will result from recent events. I think that the public, while currently a little more gunshy than usual about airplanes, also recognizes that imposition of substantial restrictions on aviation would have significant negative impacts and moreover would imply that at least in this arena “the terrorists have won.”

Personally, I would not object to some security enhancements at GA airports. After all, GA aircraft owners are victims of avionics theft and occasionally aircraft theft too. At PAO they installed a new perimeter security fence and enhanced ramp lighting in 2000. Since Sept. 11 they have closed security gates 24 hr a day instead of just at night, so one cannot drive a vehicle onto the field unless one knows the gate combination. A 24 hr night watchman would be nice too; I think San Carlos (SQL) may have one. These are sensible things that, although individually only incremental, in aggregate make for a safer airport environment–for pilots and aircraft owners too! My flying has not been restricted or inconvenienced in any way by these things; in fact the airport is a more comfortable place for me and my family because of them (especially at night).

Still, I think we as pilots can do much to help our cause further by simply educating friends, colleagues at work, etc., when subjects such as this are brought up in conversation. I have been pleasantly surprised by the reasonable “I hadn’t thought of it that way” reaction of friends and colleagues when I point out that small planes are, no more or less than automobiles, just a form of personal transportation, and that they are in fact far more awkward and far less potentially damaging “terrorist weapons” than even a compact car could be in malevolent hands. I have also elicited a combination of laughter and new understanding by describing the following analogy: “The restrictions placed on GA in the weeks following Sept. 11 were as though in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, committed with a truck, the authorities had said, ‘OK, we’re going to let all of the trucks back onto the roads immediately, but ban those dangerous motorcycles…’”

Don’t underestimate the aggregate impact of such individual “private victories” in supporting GA. They are a good investment of one’s time and effort.