Yet ANOTHER Threat To GA Freedoms??
ANN Real-time Update, 08.30.10, 0002
ET: ANN has been making inquiries among some of the Law
Enforcement professionals we've had the pleasure to work with over
the last few years in regards to the Kings' report... Their remarks
uniformly conclude that such mistakes are not only common-place but
likely to be that way for a while. A number of FLEOs indicate that
EPIC (and other security clearing houses like it) is not all
that bad an organization but is one that is both under-funded and
under-staffed... and as a result pretty tardy in clearing up aged
and errant data.
One LEO noted that the age of the information (several years)
should have been a dead giveaway to the SBPD... had they
been apprised of that fact (which is not at all clear at this
point)... and that incidents like this are likely to be more and
more common until these security databases are cleared up and
properly maintained. ALL LEOs that we talked to agreed that the
possibility of hazard to an innocent party was "significant"
and depended solely on the accuracy and amount of data given
to the arresting authority and how well those LEOs are
trained. -- More info to come...
Original Report, 08.29.10, 1752
ET: Folks; I don't have to tell you that the plight
of aviation is not a healthy one right now -- this industry is
dying the death of a thousand cuts... and here's even more stunning
evidence that we're all in serious trouble. Two of aviation's best
known figures, and experts in virtually segments of sport, general
and business aviation were held and detained at gunpoint just 24
hours ago... by the Santa Barbara Police Department -- and based on
what was eventually/admittedly false info. Mind you, this was info
that could have been proven errant with the slightest effort by
those who are supposedly in charge of protecting us... and our
freedoms -- LONG before guns needed to be drawn and lives
threatened. But; that didn't happen... the system didn't work, and
yet another threat to the many freedoms once enjoyed by pilots all
over America is making itself known... and its NOT the first time
we've heard a story like this.
But... rather than hear us tell it, let's hear it in John King's
On Saturday, August 28 at the Santa Barbara Airport, Martha
and I were held at gunpoint, ordered from our Cessna 172,
handcuffed and detained in the back of two separate police
Later, the Santa Barbara Police told us that a "private
company" had called them and reported that N50545 had been stolen
and was on its way to Santa Barbara Airport. In fact, the airplane
that had been stolen (8 years ago) was a 1968 C150J and the
registration for that airplane had been cancelled by the FAA in
September of 2005. The registration number was then re-assigned
four years later by the FAA to the airplane we were flying, a 2009
Cessna 172S owned by Cessna Aircraft Corporation. It would have
taken less than 60 seconds on the FAA website to reveal these
Apparently the Santa Barbara Police took the word of a
company they were not familiar with, failed to make even
rudimentary checks on the web, confused a 2009 Cessna 172S with a
1968 150J, and on that basis, put us at grave risk by creating a
situation that could have been lethal.
The "private company" that supposedly had called the Santa
Barbara Police was the El Paso Intel Center (EPIC). In reality this
"private company" is shown on the web as a program of the
The concerning issue to us, as it should be for all pilots,
is that apparently nobody is bothering to remove a registration
number from the stolen aircraft list when a registration number has
been re-assigned. As a result, completely innocent citizens wind up
being detained at gunpoint. It appears that there is no system in
place to prevent this from happening repeatedly.
We had flown up IFR, utilizing a system in which we gave the
FAA our name, address and contact information and announced to the
world that we were going to Santa Barbara-hardly, it seems, the way
someone flying a stolen airplane would behave.
In many ways the Santa Barbara Police Department could feel
set up for this failure, by a system that falsely reported the
aircraft as stolen. Had it been a reportedly stolen automobile,
they would have verified their facts with the DMV before they took
action. But they don't know anything about aircraft. One officer
asked me where he could find the vehicle identification number
(VIN) for the aircraft. When I said that aircraft don't have a VIN
the officer said to me, "Yes they do." I finally realized he wanted
to know where to find the aircraft serial number.
They do not know how to check with the FAA, even though it
would have taken only a minute on the FAA website. Plus, they don't
know one aircraft from another. But they did not allow this to slow
them down on this "opportunity" and they plunged ahead, not knowing
what they were doing. As a result, they failed to exercise the
standard of care that should be required before you put citizens at
gunpoint. After all, we expect the press to confirm outside
information they receive every time before they go to print.
Shouldn't police departments be held to at least the same standard
before they put citizens at gunpoint?
Aero-Analysis: ANN is researching the
matter and has calls into a number of Government and Law
Enforcement agencies. Folks.... this could have been a
tragedy... guns were drawn, people were detained, freedoms were
denied... all because the system failed to protect those
it was created to serve. This is not the first time this
has happened and it is only a matter of time before an innocent
pilot or passenger is hurt or killed while such tactics are
employed in the interests of what we've come to call "Security
Theater." More info to follow...