A Historical Decision For The TSA

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The Wright brothers overcame some pretty incredible obstacles to get their planes in the air but they never came up against anything like the TSA. Ken Hyde, of The Wright Experience, discovered this week that the Virginia airstrip where he plans to test-fly his replica of the first airplane capable of sustained and controlled flight is within the Washington air defense identification zone. And since the Wrights didn't invent two-way radio communication or transponders -- much less file a flight plan for 106 feet -- Hyde will be deemed a national security threat if he proceeds with his testing without those modern accoutrements. While the Wrights grappled with the forces of nature, it will likely be political pressure that will help Hyde's dream come true. AOPA has gone to bat for The Wright Experience by filing a waiver petition on his behalf. Hyde actually wants to test two aircraft, the 1903 model that will be flown Dec. 17 at Kitty Hawk centennial celebrations and a 1911 Model B Flyer. The flights will form part of a documentary on the evolution of Wright designs. "We are very hopeful that the TSA will recognize both the historical significance and lack of a threat these aircraft ... represent and quickly approve a waiver," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. There's a safety consideration as well. AOPA's Melissa Bailey noted that trying to handle the inherently unstable aircraft and talk on a handheld radio would be both "unrealistic and unsafe." Those types of opinions have never had much impact on TSA decision-making, before, but stay tuned.