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In the privileged world of private aviation, there are no pat-downs or porno scanners.  In fact, there is hardly any security at all.  Jeffrey Goldberg reveals his experience in The Atlantic:

I do not ordinarily have access to corporate-aviation flights, but a few of my friends do, and I feel very warmly toward these friends when they ask me to join them aboard their planes, which is not often enough. Such an invitation came recently while I was in New York City for an appearance on The Colbert Report, during which I discussed our country’s ludicrous aviation-security system...

...Fifteen minutes after leaving Manhattan, we arrived at the airport gate. A private security guard asked my friend for the tail number of our plane. He provided the number—or he provided a few digits of the number—and we were waved through, without an identification check. The plane, I should point out, didn’t belong to my friend...

The journalist is perturbed to discover that there is nothing to stop a terrorist from gaining access to the sky in this manner.

"Do these pilots know you well?" I asked. "Is that why they trust you to bring me along?"

He first met them that morning, he said, when they flew him to Teterboro.

We climbed aboard the eight-seat twin-engine plane. The pilot greeted us, took my bag from me, and placed it on a seat. I noticed that no door separated the cabin from the cockpit.

We took off a few minutes later and headed south, in the direction of the Pentagon, the White House, and the United States Capitol complex.

"So let’s just say that I’m a terrorist pilot," I said, "and I have a bag filled with handguns and I shoot these two pilots and then I take control of the plane and steer it into the headquarters of the CIA," near which we would soon be flying. "What’s stopping me?"

"There’s nothing stopping you," my friend said. "All you need is money to buy a plane, or a charter."

The point Goldberg raises is a valid one.  How is there such as gaping hole in our national security when we have spent over $1 trillion, sacrificed our liberties and lost thousands of lives to prevent such a circumstance?

The facts are even more disturbing.  The Federal Aviation Administration has lost track of 119,000 aircraft, or one-third of all U.S. planes.

The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.

The records are in such disarray that the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government's knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights. It has ordered all aircraft owners to re-register their planes in an effort to clean up its files.

About 119,000 of the aircraft on the U.S. registry have "questionable registration" because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA. In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or has been junked.

The question is not whether but to what extent this gap has been exploited.  One scandalous account emerged last year of a cocaine-trafficking private flight out of Florida.

In November 2005 and January 2006, Wachovia transferred a total of $300,000 from Puebla to a Bank of America account in Oklahoma City, according to information in the Alatorre cases in the U.S. and Mexico.

Drug smugglers used the funds to buy the DC-9 through Oklahoma City aircraft broker U.S. Aircraft Titles Inc., according to financial records cited in the Mexican criminal case. U.S. Aircraft Titles President Sue White declined to comment.

On April 5, 2006, a pilot flew the plane from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Caracas to pick up the cocaine, according to the DEA. Five days later, troops seized the plane in Ciudad del Carmen and burned the drugs at a nearby army base.

Nearly 10 years ago, one of our intelligence agencies had actually designed an exercise to train for the possibility that a corporate jet would crash into one of its buildings.  Nonetheless, it was supplanted by a live crisis.

In what the government describes as a bizarre coincidence, one U.S. intelligence agency was planning an exercise last Sept. 11 in which an errant aircraft would crash into one of its buildings. But the cause wasn't terrorism -- it was to be a simulated accident.

Officials at the Chantilly, Va.-based National Reconnaissance Office had scheduled an exercise that morning in which a small corporate jet would crash into one of the four towers at the agency's headquarters building after experiencing a mechanical failure.

...Adding to the coincidence, American Airlines Flight 77 — the Boeing 767 that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon — took off from Dulles at 8:10 a.m. on Sept. 11, 50 minutes before the exercise was to begin.

How long do we have until this vulnerability in private aviation is exploited by terrorists?  Does this not fall within the Cheney Doctrine?  

Originally posted to The Anomaly on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 09:58 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (26+ / 0-)

    Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.

    by The Anomaly on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 09:58:21 AM PST

  •  Commercial air travel is excessively scrutinized (5+ / 0-)

    Probably ought to fix the problem, not spread the malaise.

    Unless one is Petty.

    Notice: This Comment © 2011 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:03:25 AM PST

  •  Follow the money (11+ / 0-)

    People who can afford private planes give lots of money to congressional campaigns.

    People who give politicians lots of money don't get groped by the TSA.  

    If a skyscraper has to be destroyed and if thousands of people have to die; tough.  The rights of people who give money to politicians will never be violated.

    •  Let's clear something up (14+ / 0-)

      People who own private planes do not necessarily have lots of money. As a former plane owner.  (I plane a purchased for far less than the cost of some cars.)

      I can say without  a moments hesitation I am not rich by anybody's standards. And there are far more pilots like me than the super rich. People who love to fly and work out financially ways to do it. In fact the super rich fly little they are flown.

      In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

      by jsfox on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:11:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A friend of mine in florida bought (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ExStr8, jsfox, MGross

        an ultralight kit. It was awesome. Flew it into a tree though.

        Then you start reading this bit, realise that it's actually the start of my sig and get annoyed!

        by psilocynic on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:18:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What kind of plane? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        icemilkcoffee

        If it's a small single engined Cessna or something like that, then I think if you crash it into the building, not much damage will be done. We've seen it before a few times and usually the pilot is the only casualty.

        A Gulfstream, on the other hand, could probably cause quite a bit of damage. Perhaps not the damage caused by a 757 like on 9/11, but a hell of a lot more than a little Cessna. And Gulfstream jets aren't cheap.

        Twitter: Dumbing down American politics, 140 characters at a time

        by yg17 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:18:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Packed with explosives though, all of them (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fabian, ExStr8, indycam, janmtairy

          would be quite lethal.

        •  They can be had for free . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ExStr8

          And Gulfstream jets aren't cheap.

          "brutes have risen to power, but they lie!" Charlie Chaplin

          by indycam on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:32:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And Gulfstream jets (6+ / 0-)

          are not easy to fly. The folks that crashed into the towers you will notice waited for the plane to take off before seizing control.

          As to your first question a YAK-52

          steveprint300dpi8

          In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

          by jsfox on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:37:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  jsfox, could we hear the rest of (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kitsap River, Bluefin

            the story of that airplane, please?

            LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 03:43:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's a Yak 52 (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BlackSheep1, Kitsap River, Bluefin

              and was a Russian military primary trainer. It is fully aerobatic and capable of handling G loads of +7 and -5. The cockpit and controls are set up similar to an old Mig so as to make the transition from prop to jet easier. It will land on just about anything and can quickly be put back into service, same day, if it lands wheels up.

              It runs a nine cylinder radial engine and will run on standard pure leaded auto gas, no ethanol. It runs better on Avgas. It engine start, braking and flaps are operated by air pressure.  The prop is wood and the blades perforated approx 10 inches from the tip so that if you land wheels up the prop blades will break off at these points. Reason, no sudden engine stop which would require the engine to be torn down. And supposedly once you get it back up on it's wheels you can take off and get back home for repairs. I know no-one who has tried this :)

              Typical of most Russians planes built during the Soviet era it is way over engined, as rugged as a tank and can take one a hell of a beating.

              The price when they first became available in the US was silly cheap for an airplane. They have climbed in price as they get harder to find. And there is a tail wheel version, It is a standard Yak that is converted to tail wheel that has gotten stupid expensive.

              Any other questions?

              In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

              by jsfox on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 04:24:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Gulfstream jets... (0+ / 0-)

          are not cheap.  But they can (and are!) kept in private hangars, and can land on uncontrolled airfields.  From such fields, they can readily fly to the places you think of as airports.

          Anyone who owns one, or anyone who wants to steal one, could readily load such an aircraft up with whatever one wanted, and fly it to wherever one wanted.

          What's the point of having one-ended security?  The large airports I've flown into usually didn't bother with security for part 135 and part 91 operations (non-airline).  Nor did they allow them into the secured terminal areas at the airport.

          So tell me again why passengers for these aircraft should be searched?

      •  From what I understand (0+ / 0-)

        the purchase price of a plane isn't the real problem....

        It's the storage, the maintenance, the fuel, the fees....

        IOW - owning a plane isn't going to cost you, operating it is.  OTOH - operating a plane is an excellent way of generating a data trail.  

        Show me the POLICY!

        by Fabian on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:53:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Again depends on the plane (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fabian, ExStr8, Otteray Scribe

          and where you live. My plane was fairly reasonable to fly and maintain. A lot of which I could do myself. Then living in NH storage costs were again relatively inexpensive in this is with the plane being hangared and not parked out on the field.

          In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

          by jsfox on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:02:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Storage, maintenance, fees... (0+ / 0-)

          not to mention inspections. A friend of mine owned a twin-engine prop plane (don't remember what kind even though I have flown right seat in it). It cost him around $10,000 a year back in 2001 to get it inspected.

          Living kidney donor needed; type B, O, or incompatible (with paired donation). Drop me a note (see profile).

          by Kitsap River on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 06:20:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Wholeheartedly agree! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Curt Matlock, Kitsap River, Bluefin

        I've owned a couple different aircraft. A Cessna 150 I paid $9000 for and a Cessna 182 that I paid $16,000 for.

        It seems lost on the diarist that there are thousands and thousands of small airports all over the country. Every airplane that flies does not take off or land at SFO or LAX. For that matter, if you have sufficient land and access to a bulldozer, you can make your own landing strip.

        Most of the these small airports have virtually no security whatsoever. No security guards, no check points, many don't even have fences.

        Unless the diarist is suggesting the elimination of general aviation, not much can be done to stop the small possibility that someone will fly a Cessna into a building.

        Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

        by reflectionsv37 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:53:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong analysis. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, Bluefin

      Most planes are single-engine aircraft that are capable of taking off and landing out of farm fields, and not rarely do.

      How do you secure commercial airliners when they share facilities with these kinds of aircraft?

      Once an aircraft is on the runway side of the airport, all planes are equal.

      Most airports have a painted line on the tarmac that separates the secured areas that handle airliners against other traffic.    Why should aircraft that never cross that line have their passengers searched at all?

      [In point of fact, I never have been, and I've flown out of several large and not-so-large airports.]

  •  Ooops! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:06:23 AM PST

  •  While your diary (8+ / 0-)

    has some merit the headline not so much.

    It is not that private planes are a menace, it is that the lax security at some small airports presents  a possible security threat.

    As to the gap in ownership tracking this is rapidly closing. When I sold my plane the FAA triple checked to be sure

    1. I was the actual owner
    1. The person buying was who he said he was
    1. And the plane being sold was actually the plane as registered and that the numbers tail and serial numbers matched their records.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:07:08 AM PST

  •  I remember walking onto a small plane (7+ / 0-)

    in Albuquerque a couple of years after september 11 without any security. it was a commuter flight to Carlsbad/Roswell and literally, there were no gates of any kind, you just showed your ticket and walked on.  

    I wonder if that was ever tightened up?

    The private plane issue is a pretty big achilles heel, but when you realize that these planes often fly out of small regional/noncommercial airports, you can see why - nobody wants to spend the billions to get all these podunk airports into some sort of secure state.

    •  I Used To Fly Weekly From Dulles (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decembersue, G2geek, JeffW

      to Raleigh. Small prop plane that you walked up to. Before 9/11 almost no security. After 9/11, well they tighten it up a lot.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:10:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember waiting for clients at a small airport (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decembersue, Fabian, JeffW, emilysdad

      in Wisconsin. Their flight was delayed. The guy working at the "airport" got up and left and asked me to make sure the door was locked when I was done. This was also after 9/11. I couldn't believe it.

    •  If something does happen, a private (4+ / 0-)

      plane would not do the damage a fully-loaded 737 can do to a building.

      Yet, a suicidal tea partier flew a small plane into a federal building and killed an IRS employee.

      Doubt much can be done about people who own and fly their own planes -- as indycam pointed out, many people do this.

      A noticeable weak point is the FAA's inability to track airplane purchases.  Sounds like they could use maybe some more employees to develope and run a registry.

      Oh, but that's right.  If the Republicans and tea party found out about it, they'd claim the Communist/Nazi Obama administration was going to put airplane owners in concentration camps.

      HylasBrook @62 - fiesty, fiery, and fierce

      by HylasBrook on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:22:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cessna 150 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian, Bluefin

        Assuming a full fuel load and only a pilot (170 lb) on board, a Cessna 150 would have about another person's weight (170 lb) available to pack in high explosives.  

        170 pounds of explosive plus 150 pounds of fuel, plus the kinetic energy of a 100-120 mph crash would make a tidy blast...but not really any different than a car bomb and much more strict weight limitations.

        The main advantages would be speed and difficulty of interception.

        Obviously this is an exploratory calculation derived from easily accessible knowledge.

        We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

        by bmcphail on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:37:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Do key buildings in DC now have (0+ / 0-)

          well hidden antiaircraft assets?  Or shouldn't I be asking?

          Baz

          We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

          by bmcphail on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:38:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are anti-aircraft assets (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bmcphail, HylasBrook

            around DC. Flying a private plane in to the permanent TFR airspace aover DC first gets you targeted by new laser system that hits you right in the cockpit to get your attention so that you alter course. Don't alter course and you are immediately intercepted and escorted out and landed at the nearest airfield. Don't comply and you are shot down no ifs and or buts.

            In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

            by jsfox on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:58:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Umm speed? (5+ / 0-)

          You ever flown or flown in a Cessna 150? I think I have ridden my bicycle faster :)

          And the weight and balance limitations of a 150 make it very poor choice for a kamikaze attack.

          In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

          by jsfox on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:47:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It depends on how many you use. (0+ / 0-)

            One is strange....

            A hail of small aircraft...different story.

            Show me the POLICY!

            by Fabian on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:55:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Both flown and flown in. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jsfox, HylasBrook

            100-120 is airspeed.  As you likely know, groundspeed would be a factor of the direction and speed of the wind.  

            Of course, a larger plane would be more dangerous, but one would hope easier to detect and intercept.

            At least I hope if anyone is gathering enough explosives to fill up a Gulfstream or Lear that someone would take notice.

            Baz

            We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

            by bmcphail on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 02:00:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  d'you know, I don't remember that a hue and cry (0+ / 0-)

        to stop people buying private planes or taking flying lessons followed on that IRS disaster, and it was in Austin.

        LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 04:59:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  but this is charming ... it means (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decembersue

      I might not have to give up flying after all ...

      LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 04:58:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You don't need money or a charter . (6+ / 0-)

    All you need is access to a field where planes are stored .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    On July 4, 2010, a Cessna 400 single-engine plane was reported stolen from the Bloomington, Indiana airport – it was later found crashed in the shoreline waters of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas,

    http://www.airspacemag.com/...

    Sage-Popovich carries out about 50 recoveries a year, some of multiple aircraft. The most common target are Boeing 737s, but Popovich and his team retrieve everything from 747s to luxury executive jets. Chasing smaller stuff—the "tinker toys"—isn’t cost-efficient for an operation that keeps as many as 60 people in the field at a time.

    "brutes have risen to power, but they lie!" Charlie Chaplin

    by indycam on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:13:32 AM PST

  •  So, more pant-pissing fascism? (13+ / 0-)

    If terrorist were going to fly a private plane into the CIA, they would have done it already.  And what would they accomplish but another round of carpet bombing of a Muslim country?
    And a truck bomb driven into a shopping mall would do far greater damage than crashing a private jet ever would.  Are you going to ban private vehicle ownership as well?

    A private plane is not going to bring down a skyscraper.  It will not repeat 9/11, which is the primary goal of airliner passenger screening.  So what is the point of banning private plane ownership when the same death and destruction can still be caused by other means?

    I live under the O'Hare airport glidepath.  Huge 747s fly over my house everyday.  If just one of those jets had engine failure at the wrong time, it could crash and wipe out my entire neighborhood.  Should we ban PUBLIC air travel as well?  After all, if I die in an accidental air crash, I'm just as dead as if I die in a terrorist caused one.  What's the difference?

    I'm sorry, but living in a free society caries real risks by necessity.  You can hide under your bed in fear and waste your life away, you'll still die just the same.  Live on your feet and just deal with it.

    •  I think this diary is about (4+ / 0-)

      high security for some and none for others .

      A private plane is not going to bring down a skyscraper.

      A DC-3 loaded up as a winged bomb ?
      A AN-2 loaded up as a winged dirty bomb ?

      "brutes have risen to power, but they lie!" Charlie Chaplin

      by indycam on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:22:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Security and the Patriot Act went too far (7+ / 0-)

        They can never prevent another terrorist attack.  The solution to paranoia at public airports isn't to spread that paranoia further.

        Sure a DC-3 can be used as a flying bomb, just like every moving van on the street can be a mobile bomb.  But 16 years after Oklahoma city there hasn't been a repeat performance, even though it would be extremely easy for a well financed group to pull off.

        The security screening at airports is also because as a commercial flier, a passenger is getting on a plane with hundreds of strangers, and has no control over them or their baggage.

        If I get on a private plane and don't trust who's flying with me, I can throw them off my plane can't I?  If it's my plane, I can demand to search their luggage.  Can't do that on a public flight.

    •  You don't get the point of this diary (5+ / 0-)

      The whole point is that us regular folks have to have our genitals groped and our hides irradiated at every turn. While the beautiful people get to waltz in and out of their private planes with nary a wave of the hand.

      If the beautiful people all have to have their junk groped and their breast implants squeezed, I can guaranteee you all this intrusive nonsense would stop tomorrow.

    •  You have my sympathies. I used to spend a lot of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

      edumacation time there near O'Hare. Was sitting by the pool (really close to O'Hare) once, and saw a departing  airliner that was just climbing off the runway do a very low and fast bank and 180' back to the runway for an emergency landing, I had a brief thought that it was headed for me.
      I was also up there about the time of this accident American Airlines Flight 191 way back in 1979.

      This is spooky, my ex and I also transited DFW (Dallas) in the same weather that brought down this flight with the same number as the previous on: Delta Air Lines Flight 191, it was an hour or two behind us.

      This accident is one of the few commercial air crashes in which the meteorological phenomenon known as microburst-induced wind shear was a direct contributing factor.

      The investigation actually pioneered the discovery of "microbursts".
      I remember that time well as it was the roughest commercial landing I have ever experienced.

      Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

      by Bluefin on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 04:58:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Private planes have been flown (8+ / 0-)

    into buildings, usually with more harm done to the pilot than either the building or occupants.  Most private aircraft are owned by people who are your neighbors, your postman, your doctor or your local florist.  The claim that general aviation is the purview of the privileged rich is ludicrous.  And a Cessna flying at 120 miles per hour is not a real threat to the local government or economic infrastructure.

    Someone mentioned a DC-3 loaded with a "dirty bomb."  That is the stuff of movie thrillers and science fiction. Not likely.  As for security at general aviation airports, it is simply not possible to have a high level of security at every small airport and cropduster strip.  I have a few acquaintances who own their own private airports that consist of a two thousand foot long strip mowed out of a farm field. How are those kinds of fields going to be put under the TSA umbrella?

    I have seen figures that show as much as five million dollars a year is added to the economy of small towns by the simple presence of a general aviation airport nearby. Clamping down on security at such fields would not only be virtualy impossible, but would force the closure of the field.  The only way to make them impervious to some misuse would be to turn them into housing developments or Wal-Mart parking lots. Oh, I almost forgot--Wal-Mart and other big box stores like to have an airport near their stores so company executives can pay site visits to their facilities.  

    It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:37:13 AM PST

  •  The Murrah Federal Building (10+ / 0-)

    in Oklahoma City and the Marine barracks bomb in Beirut were destroyed by truck bombs. Not airplanes. There is no such thing as perfect security. And there are a lot more people who know how to drive a truck than fly a plane.

    It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. - Ansel Adams

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:42:30 AM PST

  •  A small plane was in fact flown into an IRS build (5+ / 0-)

    building just last year:
    http://www.reuters.com/...

    One would think the FAA would wake up after that terrorist (let's call it what it is) incidence.

    •  And one into the White House (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

      within my memory, anyway. A couple of decades ago, wasn't it?

      I think they'll act to increase security in baggage claim areas first, though. Scanners and patdowns coming for entry into those I think.

      Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

      by billmosby on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:44:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  you might as well .... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyesoars

    bang your head against a wall and expect a Genie to appear.

    Small airports all across America are essentially free and clear for doing whatever they please.  Any airport that has received any Federal grants get to exist in perpetuity and can't turn away any aircraft that the airport is 'sized' for.  Any airplane company cannot be turned away.  Training companies can buzz communities with abandon and get away with it.  Local community groups charged with finding noise abatement procedures are impotent to get airports to enforce procedures.

    I know.  A local airport is located far enough from me that it can't be seen, and the maps of the runways show them pointing decidedly NOT at my home, but they buzz my house with the touch and go training sometimes 6 planes in less than 5 minutes.  I live on a 'pristine' rive in FL in a 30+ year old 'upscale' (when built) golf community, with protected wetland on the airport side of the river opposite me. I can't hold a face to face conversation with my SO outside when the training businesses are active: Embry Riddle Aeronautical University is among them, so not just small companies.  Lots of foreign students (not a particularly bad thing, but ... remember who trained in FL and helped decimate the twin towers).  The airport manager won't even supply a listing of the training organizations that fly from there so the owners / managers can be contacted directly to request them to make an attempt to at least fly the noise abatement flight pattern part of the time.  A federal grant for a tower was obtained and the tower went into operations in 2004, and the noise increased dramatically.  City government is complicit and uncaring.  Meanwhile, the home next door to me (also severely affected by the noise) has been abandoned by the owners because of the noise and can't be sold at less than half of what they had in it (purchase price and improvements)  A riverfront home just remodeled in FL with a double decker boat dock and swimming pool in a golf community doesn't sit empty for a year even in this economy at the asking price.

    So you'll get nowhere asking the FAA to do anything about anything pertaining to small aircraft and local regional airports.  they don't give a damn, all they care about is that they control the airport, and all the sky above it is theirs.  Not yours.   They just don't give a damn.

    it's time for LGBT Americans to put some First Amendment remedies into place.

    by emsprater on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:29:56 PM PST

    •  I notice that you didn't give a date that the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

      airport was established.
      I'll bet it was there long before your house was built. Ever hear of "due diligence"? Blame yourself.

      If they really are violating a noise abatement plan, you can complain to the FAA about it. Log the times, paths, tailnumbers (get some binoculars/cameras), build a case, hit them with it.
      I'm not taking anybody's side, either.

      I aviate, so I do have a slight bias, and I have a home in a prominent location (apparently, it's on a ridge near some landmarks) in which the airspace above is used sometimes by pilot training outfits from an airport ~20 miles away to practice "stall recovery".

      In most light aircraft, as the stall is reached the aircraft will start to descend (because the wing is no longer producing enough lift to support the aeroplane's weight) and the nose will pitch down. Recovery from this stalled state usually involves the pilot decreasing the angle of attack and increasing the air speed, until smooth air flow over the wing is resumed. Normal flight can be resumed once recovery from the stall is complete.[5] The maneuver is normally quite safe and if correctly handled leads to only a small loss in altitude (50'-100'). It is taught and practised in order for pilots to recognize, avoid, and recover from stalling the airplane.[6] A pilot is required to demonstrate competency in controlling an aircraft during and after a stall for certification,[7] and it is a routine maneuver for pilots when getting to know the handling of a new aircraft type. The only dangerous aspect of a stall is a lack of altitude for recovery.

      "leads to only a small loss in altitude (50'-100')" my ass!
      That is something that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you're working outside: hearing a straining, climbing Cessna 172 all of the sudden get real quiet, until you can hear the wind whistling around the wings and fuselage and look up and see a head on airplane with a dead prop getting closer and bigger as it accelerates and dives right at you (sometimes even military pilots from Randolph do the same thing around here). Just like in the war movies.
      I just get nervous (and jealous), not irritated.

      Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

      by Bluefin on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 04:13:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah yes, the spectre of ... (0+ / 0-)
        'it's your own damn fault for buying a house near an airport' argument.  That's like saying 'did you notice that STDs existed before you first had sex?'.

        Local pilots who fly for pleasure actually are not the problem.  They follow the patterns and cause little noise.  It's the flight schools who cause the problem, because the students are transient and the owners don't give a damn about the community they sponge off of.  One of the owners, from England, tired of the area and went back to England, but still owns and reaps the rewards of the flight school here.  He has no investment in doing the 'right thing'.

        The airport, like all the small airports across the country that were 'given' (with some heavy costs and restrictions BTW) to communities after WWII  was a dirt runway initially.  Then a small one paved runway when the house was built, a second runway eventually (before our purchase).  When we purchased the house, the tower wasn't in operation and there was minimal flight training there.  Now there are 127,000 takeoffs or landings annually (between the hours of 07:00 and 19:00, the tower isn't manned otherwise and night flights are not tabulated). Castro could come and go there at night and no one would know.  I know about 'stall recovery', they do it over my house all the time.

        I'm not anti flight or fair use of the airport, either, my ex son in law is a pilot and my future son in law is also a pilot.  Both trained at ERAU, and both have flown from the offending airport.

        Complaints do nothing.  Tail numbers are on the sides of the planes here.  You can't see the numbers looking up at the belly of a plane, no matter how you crane your neck or what power binoculars you use.  They fly so low that my son in law advised me he could tell when flying overhead while he was in training (and never once trained to NOT do so) when the pool cleaner was running in my average size pool.  The pool cleaner's largest part is about a 24" diameter blue circle.  Pictures of the offending planes sent (by email) to the airport manager accomplish nothing.  He once told me that he didn't open them because the files were 'too big' (apparently detailed clear images are not wanted).

        Back to the 'who was where first' argument that I find so insulting: it amounts to telling a person who has neighbors who have teenagers who have wild parties all the time that they have no valid ability to complain because if they had done their 'due diligence' they would not have moved next to a home with more than one bedroom because at some future date there might be loud offspring inhabiting that second bedroom.

        Meanwhile, the noise continues, the planes won't follow the 'approved' noise abatement flight pattern, the FAA and the Airport manager get complaints and the Tower .... wins 'awards' for doing such a 'good job'.

        Blame?  I place it squarely on the folks who won't enforce the flight pattern that would take the planes straight off the runway  after take off (they actually have to veer about 20 degrees south to cross the river over my home) not over my home, but over the protected wetland and a small commercial strip , then a bridge and then more protected wetland, by then the planes can be well above 1000 feet (or more). But they continue to 'aim' directly for my home (or the now abandoned unsellable home next door).

        it's time for LGBT Americans to put some First Amendment remedies into place.

        by emsprater on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 05:46:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, you're making a pretty good case. Your (0+ / 0-)

          best hope is still to document and get on the FAA about it. I understand about the worthless FBO operators, but the actual flying CFI's are the ones most responsible for the irresponsiblities. I guess the level of professionalism has declined a bunch over there.

          Or you could get one of these from surplus Quad Bofors.
          Or maybe something more current: a Phalanx (my Coastie offspring say it is awesome in action)

          Taking up large kite-flying or RC model aircraft has potential too...

          Republicans: "Double your pleasure, double your fun, double your National Debt, and blame 'The One' "

          by Bluefin on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 06:31:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hard to cause huge amounts of (0+ / 0-)

    damage, unless you hijacked one of the "private planes" belonging to Travolta, or to Google, etc. So it's probably just a case of Homeland Security trying to save a little money.

    You can kill people with them, though, so I imagine something more will be done about this. In standard fashion it will take a terrorist incident with something larger than what was flown into the IRS offices, I imagine, to get more done about it.

    And meanwhile it seems that there is a gaping security hole that could more profitably be closed: baggage claim areas.

    Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

    by billmosby on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:43:05 PM PST

  •  there's nothing that can be done (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emsprater, billmosby, Bluefin

    Or nothing worth doing, anyway.

    There are far too many private planes to feasibly implement any kind of meaningful security.

    Yes, it's a huge security risk.

    Any terrorist could load a plane up with explosives and fly it into a college football stadium. Minimum dead in the hundreds, and if the terrorists were using high explosives it would likely kill many, many thousands.

    So what? Why worry about it? That vulnerability has been around for decades.

    It would be stupid to spend billions putting in onerous security measures for private aircraft.

    Yes, it's also stupid spending billions for onerous security measures on commercial airliners -- measures that do virtually nothing to make us any safer -- but why add to the stupidity and expense.

    .

    •  A big RC plane with (0+ / 0-)

      50 lbs of explosives could do the job with a lot less detection potential beforehand. Maybe one about this size:

      here.

      Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

      by billmosby on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:48:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not gonna happen. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1

        I don't know what you know about the RC hobby, billmosby - but an aircraft like that makes learning to fly a 767 look like child's play.

        That scale B-29 is the result of several lifetimes of dedication to the hobby.  It's a famous plane, and took several people a long time to build.  They couldn't have even attempted it - let alone tried to fly it - without years of knowledge.

        I don't think any terrorist or terrorist organization is likely to spend that kind of time and money to deliver 20 pounds (a more realistic payload figure) of explosives.  RPGs are a tad more efficient.

        It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

        by Jaime Frontero on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 01:08:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, it doesn't have to be a B-29, (0+ / 0-)

          something a bit more to the point would be simpler. I'm not in the hobby myself, but I seem to recall seeing live tv systems for them, and maybe autopilots that would make it possible to guide them without  much attention to controlling them after launch.

          However, the larger picture is that there are still relatively unguarded places in airports (with enough people to present a sensational target) that can be accessed by suicide bombers, so perhaps suicide pilots won't bother with flying small planes that can't hurt more than the few people whose offices they fly into.
          Aside from a few enraged taxpayers, I should add.

          Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

          by billmosby on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 01:34:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  All true. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BlackSheep1, billmosby

            There are simpler aircraft, with some very advanced guidance systems available.  Somebody with just a couple years in the hobby can essentially put together the equivalent of a Predator drone, as a surveillance platform.

            But really, as a weapon they're pretty useless.  No payload.  Temperamental.  Expensive.

            It's tough to overcome Reynolds Numbers.

            For the idea that started this sub-thread: bombing a football stadium (and with apologies to Thomas Harris) - I think it'd be much simpler to park an old junker van in the parking lot, with a few remotely launched RPGs sticking out of the roof.

            It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

            by Jaime Frontero on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 01:47:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  it would be cheaper, faster, easier (0+ / 0-)

            to use a kite. The Chinese pioneered this several centuries ago, with fire kites.

            LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 05:10:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kitsap River, Otteray Scribe, Bluefin

    I'm just dumb, but I don't see the point of this diary.

    So someone who owns a private aircraft can fly without getting their genitals groped.  So what?

    Someone who owns a private aircraft can also land on a farm field or uncontrolled airport (of which there are thousands, shown on standard aeronautical maps) and load up with, say, gasoline, pesticides, explosives, drugs, or whatever.  They can then turn around and fly to Denver or Salt Lake City or San Francisco or wherever and land.

    So what?

    You can also buy an old 707, probably for less than $500,000 and do what you please with it.  (Though if you fly it much, it will cost you that much again in fuel in a few months.)

    If you only want to make one flight (and you know how to fly one), you can probably steal a 737 or 747 or other large aircraft without much difficulty.  (They're not generally stored in secured areas.)

    You seem to be laboring under a number of misconceptions, and the conclusions you (and others) are drawing here make no sense at all.

    [Disclaimer:  I own a glider.  I doubt the FAA knows where it is much better than I do.  I don't see any reason they should.]

  •  Why should we give up flying? (0+ / 0-)

    Or only fly commercial? Private small planes are a whole lot more fun. I have:
    Been picked up for a D & D game in one
    Scattered my husband's ashes out the window of one
    Flown right seat in one
    Learned the controls from the pilot and got to fly one, just for a few minutes

    Why should we give up that fun? Do we also need to give up things like powered hanggliders (which do not need an airport or even a road to land in and which only need a little distance of road to take off from)? How about parasails? I know people who parasail who have gained a lot more altitude (deliberately) than the legal limit, of course with oxygen on board...How about soaring?

    Where are my flying cars? They promised me flying cars!

    Living kidney donor needed; type B, O, or incompatible (with paired donation). Drop me a note (see profile).

    by Kitsap River on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 06:30:13 PM PST

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