Airport Watch Gets Splashy Send-off

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Announced last December, AOPA's Airport Watch program and video was formally launched and presented to the general media last week amid accolades from high-ranking politicians and Transportation Security Administration head Adm. James Loy. "Airport Watch makes a significant contribution on the security awareness front," Loy told the news conference held by AOPA. The program reminds us to keep our collective 1,400,000 eyes (700,000 pilots and airport workers) alert to suspicious activity, which then can be reported to the TSA's toll-free security hotline: 1-866-GA-SECURE. The program takes its lead from the ubiquitous Neighborhood Watch program. While the principles are the same, there are some specific things pilots and other airport personnel should be watching. Among them are pilots under the control of others, taking aircraft by force, people trying to rent aircraft who don't seem to know aviation procedures and aircraft with strange or obviously illegal modifications. AOPA has sent an Airport Watch brochure to all its 393,000 members and the TSA is mailing one to all other pilots. A video has also been produced and is free for the asking or it can be viewed on the Web. It will be distributed to pilot and airport groups everywhere. AOPA President Phil Boyer said pilots should use their gut instincts and common sense in monitoring airport activity. "The goal here is to raise awareness," said Boyer. "It's not to spread paranoia."