G.A. airplanes have shit for payload capability. You wanna know what’s “an open door” for terrorists? Trucks. Why can I rent a truck with just a credit card and a driver’s license? No criminal record check, no genital patdown, nothing! Won’t someone think of the children???
Admittedly rare even for small airports, these days, but DW Hooks airport, down the road from my house, doesn’t even have a fence around the terminal ramp. There’s a lovely lawn with a few shade trees and anyone walk out and view the activity as long as they want, with nary a word said against it. Whole families hang out there on weekends, with the wingtips of taxying Cessnas and executive jets practically brushing their noses. A couple signs at the edge of the ramp say “restricted area”, but that’s about it for security.
Many’s the day I’ve spent watching and photographing planes from that location. I suspect that may be coming to an end.
Yeah, I was gonna mention this too. I watched that building burn. One small aircraft plus one extra barrel of fuel equals one completely gutted office building. Sorry Johnny, but that lone nut went a long way in messing up GA for everyone for years to come.
I got a flying lesson as a birthday present a while back. When I went to the small business airport, there was no security at all. There was a fence, and you had to walk through a building to get to the ramp, but no one was watching the doors or anything. I work at a large international airport, and security is a daily fact of life for me, so this experience came as quite a shock. Granted, you can’t do much more damage with a Cessna than you can with a car, so I’m not too worried.
One commenter said there have been three light aircraft that have been crashed into buildings since 9/11. There’s the IRS building, the kid in Florida, and one other. I might be remembering the White House, but I don’t remember the date. Could’ve been one other. (That’s what I meant when I said it has been shown small aircraft are not effective weapons.)
That was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
When I learned to fly in the '80s there was a fence around the airport. But the gates were always open. The Admin building and the FSS had a low wall separating the public areas from the ramp, and a couple of little unlocked gates. (Pointless for keeping people out, since one could simply step over the wall.) There were signs that read AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT. There were nights when I couldn’t sleep, or when dad was on duty in the FSS, and I’d wander around the parked planes in the cool(er) night air. Very peaceful. A friend mentioned that she missed doing that (for she had done the same), so one night after the FSS closed and dad had been dead a couple of years (and I think her dad had just died too) I took the video camera out and made a little ‘tour’ tape. She liked it.
When I learned helicopters in the '90s it was at VNY. More security there. In order to get onto the ramp you had to have the code for the Simplex lock on one of the gates. The idea was that you would not be given the code unless you were known to the FBO. Of course a pilot could give the code to his friend, and the friend could give it to someone else, and someone else could give it to a terrorist. :rolleyes: But of course, a terrorist would use a U-Haul truck, which would be much more effective.
We do need security at many small airports. A gate with a Simplex lock or a security guard will suffice. The danger of intruders at small airports is theft, not terrorism. (And yes, airplanes and equipment to get stolen.) But there is no need for security checkpoints and searches of people and baggage.
Not sure if that includes the accident in which Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died – his plane crashed into the side of a Manhattan apartment building in '06 (although that was undoubtedly an accident, rather than an intentional crash).
This is one of the reasons I’m moving out of the flight instruction business. I’m tired of being presumed a criminal. And worse, I’m tired of the FAA and the TSA requiring me to presume my students are criminals.
So a guy with a Cherokee can set an IRS building on fire. Big deal. He could do that with a rental truck too, with much greater efficiency. Or a truck he bought, rather than rented. Or in a number of other ways. It happens, and when a lunatic is sufficiently motivated they can’t always be stopped no matter what you do.
One of these days somebody is going to take one of those trucks (either loaded with ordnance or not) and wipe out a toll booth complex. Why do I have a feeling that will NOT result in banning tollbooths? But I digress.
I’m sick of the fear. I’m sick of the encroaching hassles people have to go through just to fly a freakin’ Cessna 150 that couldn’t damage much of anything. I was a dedicated flight instructor, and my students always did well. But I’m going to find something else to do.
Mach Tuck: IMO the biggest hassle/hurdle to GA is the cost. It used to be that anyone with a middle-class income could not only aspire to becoming a pilot, but also afford to buy a new airplane. I don’t have actual figures for all parts of the country, but my parents bought a house in San Diego for $19,700 in 1965. A 1966 Cessna 172 cost $12,450 and a 172 Skyhawk cost $13,300. Nowadays a new Skyhawk sells for $345,000 and the house is estimated at $446,500. So in the '60s the airplane cost about 67.5% as much as the house, and today it costs about 77.26% as much as the house. The house I live in now, which is a similar size to the one in San Diego but is in a less expensive area, has been appraised at $158,000. So a new Skyhawk is nearly twice as expensive as my house!
Agreed, cost is huge. But we pilots sometimes forget what an incredible hassle it is just to get through training once we’ve been out of that environment for a while:
Ground training, encompassing a great deal of outdated nonsense that is of no practical use anymore
Flight training, with more and more required maneuvers as time goes by. Which I’m not necessarily opposed to because there have been safety gains, but still, it increases the number of hurdles.
Learning the FARs (law school light)
Pre-solo written exam, for each make and model
FAA written exam, which is 30 years out of date and very poorly designed
FAA medical exam
Practical test (oral and flight)
In some cases a background check including fingerprints
This is all just to fly a Cessna 150 around the patch. Less than 50% of beginning students complete a Private Pilot License (cite). In a lot of cases it’s money. But the pain-in-the-ass factor is big too. Add on a lot of extra security that really isn’t going to do much, and things will get worse and less people will fly.
But maybe that’s how they want it. As far as I’m concerned, they win.
I never considered the training, testing and paperwork to be hurdles. I never looked at them that way before. For me, the reason I haven’t been flying in the past decade is cost. Once the airspace closure after 9/11 (which lasted much longer in L.A. than in the rest of the country) knocked me out of the sky, unemployment, a mortgage, and a car payment kept me out.
When I was training (both times) becoming a pilot was a passion and the things you mentioned didn’t matter. Everyone I dealt with when undertaking them seemed very interested in making new pilots.
As a full time instructor for some years, I’ve seen many, many students with many, many different attitudes toward the training experience. And I can tell you that even for the enthusiastic, a lot of those items do add up to being hurdles. Sometimes they add up enough to make people lose the fire for training.
Can’t say I blame them, to some degree. When GPS has become a primary navigation instrument (even in IFR, with no required backups in the case of WAAS guidance), yet the written exam has 30 questions on ADF (an antiquated and dying form of nav) and about 2 on GPS, people get frustrated. I could give a lot more examples.
The Light Sport Aircraft rules are better in the sense of less hassles. But there the cost factor is also present. And it’s a little troubling to me - some of the new LSA planes cost well over $100k. Which raises the question, “What’s the point?”
I’m glad I flew when I did, and that I got trained before 9/11. But it’s become a lot less fun.