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General Aviation Security

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Well-known member
Nov 26, 2001
Ladies and Gentleman,
I recently went to rent a Cessna 172 from the airport near my home, however, the airport manager has secured renting any aircraft until he recieves further guidance from the FAA and TSA. This particular airport is run by a municipality and both airplanes are under the auspices of the airport.
He called me later on today to explain that warnings have been issued by the FBI that General Aviation is particularly vunlnerable to terrorist activity. Duh! That sounds trite, but it is obvious that security in GA is virtually nil. Where I fly, it is not uncommon to see people wandering around the ramp looking at airplanes, even if innocent it raises some questions of how easy it would be for something bad to happen given the motivations of certain individuals.
Furthermore, it was suggested that he "escort" pilots to their planes. In other words, we are one step away from "Big Brother" is watching you at the airport! Now, I realize that some security measures have to be taken, but this strikes me as an unrealisitic expectation of stopping a terrorist act by escorting a GA pilot to his airplane. I hate to criticize without offering a better suggestion for making us GA types more secure, but I cannot think of one that is not going to be outrageously expensive, instrusive or both.
When I think of the charter business, it also is very open to being a potential for terrorist activity. Sure, an operator has the option of refusing a charter, but thats really about where it ends. Unless mandatory checks of bags, carry-ons, etc... are carried out a King Air is a potential weapon. The whole thing is more than just frustrating when you think about it, it is sad...I grew up sticking my nose through an airport fence and it seems that those days for the next generation of airplane crazy kids are long gone.
On the one hand, I want our nation safe and secure. On the other I don't want to have someone waving a wand on me before I walk to my 206. Is that where we are headed???
Would sure like to hear your comments on this very real issue that is rearing it's ugly head.


ex-Navy Rotorhead
I suppose it depends on just WHO is wandering around on the ramp. When I see strangers, I strike up a conversation, maybe try to sell an airplane ride. Check the current guidelines. Is someone in control of others? If three mideastern guys start asking how many kilograms a cessna can carry, I might become suspicious enough to make a call.

When we get a charter referral, the broker tells us if the pax has flown a charter through him before. We rely pretty much on human instinct, body language, eye contact, etc to size someone up. One thing we DON"T want is an airline terminal type of search. Many people fly charter to avoid this kind of hassle.

There is no method we could adopt in order to guarantee security. A little common sense goes a long way, though.

Perhaps the best defense is for the INS to know who comes, who gos, and most important, who stays. We have a whole host of troubles stemming from our refusal to control our own borders.

Your local problem with your airport suggests you need to call AOPA and become involved in the operational aspects of your airport. There are certain things that local city councils try to do that are beyond their legal scope because airports are a part of the national transportation system. Get involved.
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Ditto to what Timebuilder said.

If your Muni Airport has recieved Federal Funds they are open to a whole bunch of rules and regs. Some good, some bad. Kind of a double edged sword. Its about time we start using the rules to start taking back then always giving. AOPA is an excellant source to see if you can use "the sword" to your benefit. Additionally get involved in airport governance (airport commission member). You would be suprised at how many airport decisions are made by city officials that have no clue about aviation just because no aviators care to get involved. Good Luck.


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