Janet, Just Tell the Nice Pilot You’re Sorry

By Robert Mark on December 27th, 2010

When Janelle from CNN called for my opinion of the latest aviation security boondoggle, I had to admit I knew very little about the incident.

The story focused on the Sacramento-based airline pilot who secretly recorded a security door in the terminal at San Francisco Int’l that allowed airport employees to pass through once they’d swiped their ID cards. The pilot posted the video along with his commentary to YouTube.

 jetwhine 3He thought it was kinda silly that other crewmembers and passengers have to suffer the indignity of X-Rays and near dirty-bits body pat downs when ground employees were free to come and go, challenged only by the door’s electronics.

Coincidentally, the pilot also happened to be a FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer), which means he carried a badge and a licensed handgun into the cockpit every day.

Unfortunately for the pilot, whose identity is still unknown, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the TSA did not take kindly to someone pointing out what appeared to be yet another lapse in the nation’s aviation security blanket and then blabbing all of this to the badguys on the Internet. The feds were so incensed at this guy that they sent a half dozen agents to his home to confiscate his weapon and badge for a violation of the regulations.

One problem though … no one seems to be able to precisely name the regulation the pilot broke.

Jetwhine has since learned the pilot did indeed violate CFR 210.902 C (b), the Federal Regulation/Code against "pointing out silly TSA security inconsistencies via video and later posting them to YouTube." I’m pretty sure this is treasonous.

Former Bush Nat’l Security Advisor Fran Townsend said on CNN that, "Pilots and stewardesses can play an important role in identifying security vulnerabilities, but not to the general public. That’s where he went wrong."

Apparently, Fran missed the Thanksgiving hubbub about the insanity of the security system pat downs of 90-year old folks in wheel chairs and little kids all in the name of protecting us in case they’ve secretly turned jihadist.

Having dealt with the FAA, TSA, DHS and the DOT, and having found that most reasonable, rational talk pretty much falls through a big secret hole in the floor, I don’t honestly find this pilot’s actions that bizarre.

What’s really frightening though, is that anyone walking through any airline terminal can see employees all day long as they walk through secure doors after swiping their ID cards. Psssstt … TSA … "If it’s not a secret from me, the bad guys already know."

Rather than punishing this guy, TSA and DHS should be saying thanks for pointing out this non-issue, or at very least, maybe admitting they overreacted … again!

Jetwhine 4 Remember when Pogo paraphrased Commodore Perry saying, “We have seen the enemy and he is us.” We should expect our government officials to think about what they do BEFORE they simply react. Unfortunately, our entire security program is reactive … reactive to 9/11, reactive to the shoe bomber and again to the underwear bomber. Guess what will happen when someone tries to sneak something into a cell phone.

We all want an aviation system that’s safe for ourselves, our families and friends. But at what cost, this 100 percent safety? Al-Qaeda’s goal on 9/11 wasn’t simply to kill thousands. The goal was to disrupt our way of life which I’d say from the aviation side, at least, they’ve done a pretty good job of. When do we say enough.

Oh, and Secretary Napolitano … I don’t think it’s illegal to make a video in an airport terminal. I also don’t think I’ve seen any airport signs that say, "Please Don’t Video Stupid Security Foibles."

At least not yet.

Rob Mark, editor


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3 Responses to “Janet, Just Tell the Nice Pilot You’re Sorry”

  1. Lorne Marr Says:

    Just compare the number of terrorists that the TSA has caught in its existence and the amount of money that has been wasted on these new devices. And when someone points out its imperfections instead of eliminating them the person is punished.

  2. Rodney Hall Says:

    Its the same reason the “threat level” will never be green. Then TSA couldn’t justify their budget. If, instead of treating every person that wants to fly like a criminal, we spent all that money and time on hiring and training enough air marshals so there was at least one on every flight larger than the prop commuter type planes we could probably make everyone feel much safer and do a lot more to deter terrorists since they wouldn’t know who to look out for on the plane. Trying to prevent someone up to no good from getting on an airplane is never going to be 100% but stopping someone on an airplane from completing their plans could be with the mindset that WE are responsible for our own safety and not the government. If our governing officials weren’t such cowards that they run in panic everytime a Cessna flies over Washington and we weren’t told to “just give the criminal what he wants” by law enforcement maybe we would accept that we should defend ourselves. We need to stand up and defend ourselves from those trying to hurt us, foreign or domestic. If I am on a plane and I think someone is becoming a threat to the flight I will do my best to stop them.

  3. Rodney Hall Says:

    If the FAAs motto is “we’re not happy until your not happy” The TSAs must be “Only criminals choose to fly”

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