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Sat, Apr 19, 2003

ANN, AOPA, EAA Respond To Boston Globe

Globe Op-Ed Advocates Banning GA From "Population Centers"

This means war.

That seems to be the reaction of aviation opinion leaders, after the Boston Globe Friday published an editorial calling for new and tougher restrictions on general aviation. The Globe cited the threat from "small planes" as reason enough to widen TSA enforcement to include all private, sport and commercial aspects of general aviation.

"...Of the country's more than 17,000 airports, the TSA has authority over just the 460 to 480 with commercial operations," the editorial says. "At the others security is often light, creating a real danger. Many lack perimeter security, and few do background checks of the pilots using their facilities."

Citing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's middle-of-the-night assault on Meigs Field earlier this month, the Globe suggested, "The Department of Homeland Security and the TSA should take a page from Mayor Daley and, without using bulldozers, explore ways to reduce the threat to this country's population centers and national monuments posed by small private aircraft."

ANN Take #1 (Jim Campbell): As pilots, we practice long and hard to perfect our craft... we earn licenses, we maintain (and prove) competency, we work in a world that lives and dies (sometimes literally) based on the quality and accuracy of the information and skills at our disposal. Unfortunately; the world of general journalism seems to have few of those constraints, and the kind of utterly inaccurate, reactionary horse-manure, like that we've seen in the Boston Globe (not the first time we've seen them screw aviation), is the not-uncommon result. The sad part of such editorial BS is that such inaccuracy and errant nonsense does damage... it adversely affects our lives and livelihoods, it demeans a vital American resource, and it further dumbs down a fair amount of the general population who now believe GA is dangerous because some idiot at the Boston Globe relied on rhetoric, instead of reason. It's time that aviation DEMAND that information about our industry be factual, well-substantiated, and properly researched... or we should make our displeasure known with those those who don't take enough provide in their craft to get the most elementary facts straight. If you're in the Boston area, I suggest you drop the Boston Globe and read something with more credibility... like the most recent statements published by the Iraqi Information Ministry...

ANN Take #2 (Pete Combs): What's next? Will our cars be banned from city centers, as in London (although that's not a security move, it's a tax scheme to relieve congestion)? Will our gas heating and cooking be turned off because houses can become bombs with which we might blow up our neighbors? At what point do we stop this fear-driven retreat from common sense? Hopefully, we reach that point before general aviation is wiped out entirely and its benefits to the nation are forever forgotten.

Shame on the Boston Globe for being inaccurate. Shame on the Globe for applauding Chicago Mayor Richard Daley when he should be labeled a tin-pot dictator for engineering the midnight destruction of Meigs Field. Shame on the Globe for blatant, unabashed fear-mongering.

AOPA: Who Are You Kidding?

"Oh, come on," wrote AOPA President Phil Boyer in a response to the Globe editorial. "Something the size of a Honda Civic is a threat to our "population centers and national monuments"? It took a moving truck packed with explosives in Oklahoma City. It took an airliner loaded with thousands of gallons of fuel in New York City.

"GA serves all Americans, whether they are pilots or not, in ways many may not realize," Boyer continued in his submission to the Globe. " Besides law enforcement and medevac operations, there is the Civil Air Patrol, whose volunteer pilots conduct 85 percent of all aerial search-and-rescue missions in the United States."

Boyer concluded his response by appealing to Globe editors for reason: "Even though general aviation has borne the brunt of aviation security measures since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the plain fact is that GA aircraft have never been used for a terrorist attack and could never do the kind of damage inflicted by three airliners on that dreadful day."

EAA: "Doomsday Scenario"

Tom Poberezny also took pen in hand, writing to the Globe, "We were greatly dismayed at your April 18 editorial "Terror in Small Planes." Your misperceptions of general aviation, unfortunately, have created a doomsday scenario that unnecessarily alarms the public. This is irresponsible on your part, as there is no history of general-aviation aircraft being used as a terrorist weapon. To spotlight general aviation as the primary threat is misguided and myopic."

Poberezny chided the Globe editorial staff: "Your theory that a small aircraft could carry some type of destructive weapon also holds true for every car, truck, boat, boxcar or pedestrian that arrives in the city. Yet nowhere do you indicate that these should be banned from the city center. The TSA has developed flight restrictions for specific areas in response to credible threats, not on blanket "what if" scenarios. To use a "sky is falling" basis for such restrictions would be a sorry waste of security agencies' vital time and resources."



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