NY Times ©: "WASHINGTON, June 15 — Acknowledging that the nation remains too vulnerable to terrorist attack by small planes and recreational boats, the Department of Homeland Security is considering new requirements to allow authorities to identify operators and passengers in millions of these vehicles as they ply the coasts and skies..."
If you, pilot and airplane owner, were unaware of this looming threat from J-3 Cubs terrorizing tall buildings--the tops of which are beyond my Aeronca Champ's service ceiling--read on: "...The threat posed by small planes and boats has been well documented." (Really? Where? and by Whom?) "While the United States is spending billions of dollars to screen cargo containers carried by ships, as well as passengers and baggage on commercial planes, a small private jet could be used to fly a weapon, or a team of terrorists, into the country.
The first set of new rules, to be announced by the end of this summer, will most likely be for small planes...."
Not just small jets, which as we all know are owned and operated by terrorists, but all "small planes."
Afraid yet? This Administration is built on fear of the unreal, so read on until you, the pilot, are very, very afraid: "...Under another proposal, general aviation airports, which range from a grass runway in the middle of a field to sprawling complexes with air traffic rivaling that at some major city airports, would have to conduct security assessments, identifying vulnerabilities. In addition, planes parked at those airports might be required to have ignition or propeller locks.
Kip Hawley, assistant secretary of the Transportation Security Administration, said two goals of the new initiative could provoke at least some protests (Ya think? ed. note): ensuring that unauthorized pilots cannot gain access to small planes and that officials have a way of knowing who is at the controls of a plane in flight."
Let's pause the tape right there. This Administration can't control the airplanes that are filed IFR with any efficiency, so how do these political (non-pilot) wizards plan to control all air traffic? Oh, yeah, by locking the propellers. Okay, that's clear. Please, read on:
"...A variety of options are under consideration to meet these goals, including requiring that small planes eventually have equipment that would allow the authorities to know automatically the plane’s owner and the pilot’s identity."
Don't we already have a system that does that? N-numbers, pilot certificates, registration...
But, wait, there's more: "(Bush appointee), Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security, said his department would not be shy about making new demands.
“If we just need to be a little tougher,” Mr. Chertoff said, “we’re going to be a little tougher.”
Certainly happy to hear that an unelected official is not shy about locking up my 1946 Aeronca Champ on its grass runway in Iowa to aid in the chase for Osama bin Laden...by the way, how's that security operation going? Any sign of the Saudi billionaire terrorist yet? I'll check inside my hangar....
"First, the TSA came for the airline pilots, I ignored it, because it didn't affect me, a small-airplane owner. When they came for the corporate, charter and turbine pilots, I, again, ignored them, because it didn't affect me. Then--they came for me, and there was no one left to help." *
Call to Action: Forget fear! Contact your elected reps. They may be useless political hacks, but they're your hacks, you pay 'em, and they do bow to political pressure. Here's a link: www.Senate.com
And contact AOPA and the Antique Airplane Association, because they don't cave to anyone.
--Paul Berge, AOPA member since 1977, Antique Airplane Association Lifetime member, former FAA employee, pilot, voter.
* With compliments to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)