The Personal Affront Is One Thing... But What About The Hazard
To Fliers Everywhere?
News/Analysis by ANN Editor-In-Chief, Jim Campbell
ANN has received a breathless
missive, this morning, from AOPA with a statement from AOPA Boss
Craig Fuller expressing outrage about the story that ANN broke
yesterday afternoon in which John King outlined his (and Martha's)
errant detention, at gunpoint, by the Santa Barbara Police
department after they landed at KSBA on Saturday.
Fuller notes that, "This past weekend, two of the most respected
members of the general aviation community were ordered from their
aircraft at gunpoint by local police in Santa Barbara, California.
Confusion about an aircraft registration number led to John and
Martha King being placed in handcuffs and put into the back of
police cars until the matter was sorted out.
"Simply put, this incident is as outrageous as it is
inexplicable and raises serious questions about the coordination of
information among federal and local authorities. A $2 app for an
iPad and 30 seconds would have discovered sufficient information to
raise serious doubt that John and Martha King, who filed and
instrument flight plan in a Cessna 172, were transporting an older
stolen Cessna 150 whose N-number had long ago been retired and
reissued by the FAA.
"We have every right to expect more from our government's
security officials than this! The Kings deserve an apology from
senior officials with responsibility over the agencies involved and
the general aviation community deserves a full accounting of what
went wrong and just how the process will be fixed.
"This morning, I have called upon federal and local officials to
review the actions surrounding this incident and report to the
general aviation community just what happened and how a process
that went seriously wrong will be fixed."
the outrage is justified in regards to the incident in question,
AOPA's statements seem more interested in who they occurred to,
than in WHAT actually occurred. The Kings were ordered out of a
Cessna-owned airplane (operated by the Kings due to the
long-standing training contracts they have with that company), at
gunpoint, handcuffed and detained separately squad cars for a
considerable and uncomfortable period of time before an error was
discovered that allowed SBPD to realize that they had goofed and
falsely detained two persons without benefit of accurate info.
Worse yet, ANN has learned, in further conversations with the Kings
that this is the SECOND TIME this aircraft has been the subject of
a a police detention... a Cessna factory pilot having dealt with
the same issue over a year and a half before!
What AOPA seems to be missing here has nothing to do with who
this happened to (outside of the fact that it makes this more
noteworthy story, but the fact that this has happened and can
continue to happen to aviators all over the nation... and that
every time it happens, there is the danger of a misunderstanding or
improper action that can result in someone getting hurt or
Mind you, even the Kings realize this. As our conversation with
John King yesterday clearly indicated... John was far more
concerned about the potential hazard this matter represented to
others than he was in the affront/hazard he and Martha suffered,
personally. John's main concern was over the fact that when guns
are drawn in a confusing, tense, situation; that innocent people
can often be hurt or killed as a result. John expressed great
concern over this... and brought this matter to our attention
solely in the hope that exposing this problem may somehow get
enough attention to get corrective action. The security apparatus
in this country is desperately and incontrovertibly broken... it
needs to be fixed before some suffers serious harm. -- J.R.
Campbell, ANN E-I-C