Stolen 172: Foot, Meet Mouth

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Being a certified, card-carrying reactionary member of that special interest group known as general aviation, I am just as capable as the next guy—no, more capable—of reacting with outrage when our industry is put upon by the government. But I like to think of myself as an equal opportunity crank and yesterday's fiasco with the stolen Cessna 172 and the F-16 chase down is a target too juicy to ignore.

In GA, we love to whimper when the government imposes some new restriction and we're beside ourselves with angst over the TSA's ill-advised LASP proposal. So what do we do? We turn around and give the government—and the general public—perfectly good reasons to think GA is a security nightmare. Press reports indicate that the Canadian flight school responsible for the errant Cessna 172 left the keys in an unlocked airplane, thus when the perp jumped the fence, the rest was easy. Whether that's exactly true or not is less important than the fact the airplane wasn't taken at gunpoint. It was simply inadequately secured against the mildest threat.

This is not the first time this has happened and in the past, the industry has made perfectly reasonable but ultimately silly arguments that a Ryder truck can do more damage than a 172 stuffed with all the C-4 you could get into it. This, of course, continues to ignore the fact that the public could give a fig about reason. We are dealing with perceptions here and these are what drive government action and inaction. Whenever you have F-16s chasing a stolen airplane around the skies of North America, this is a bad thing.

So, to our friends north of the border and to any flight school in the known universe that thinks it's too far in the hinterlands to worry about basic, commonsense security like not leaving keys in airplanes, I would suggest this: Sit down and brew yourself up a nice cup of warm $%^&($% reality. We're already stuck with stupid procedures like magnetic gate cards, identity papers and the threat of passenger screening for GA. If we want more of the same, let's just keep leaving unsecured airplanes on the ramp.

Walt Kelly penned the wisdom of the ages in 1970: We have met the enemy and he is us.

Comments (54)

I agree completely. Unfortunately, the damage to GA's reputation has been done, and now it will be up to the pilot associations to try and smooth over this security breach.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | April 7, 2009 9:26 PM    Report this comment

How, exactly, is any regulation imposed by the TSA supposed to stop this from happening in the future? Unless the TSA now has jurisdiction in Canada or Mexico, all the regulation in the world here in the US won't change things one iota. People can still steal airplanes in towns near the US border and fly them into US airspace, whether GA exists in the US or not.

Posted by: Chris Lawson | April 8, 2009 12:08 AM    Report this comment

TSA is a cancer. The more it is fed, in terms of authority, the bigger it will grow. The threat that GA constitutes to national security is miniscule. Compare the damage a 172 might do to a 55' semi-trailer loaded with a weapon of choice.

All threats to our nation cannot be controlled, but the TSA, itself, is as big a threat to our freedoms as any the nation has faced.

We, the people, need to put the brakes on the voracious appetite of the TSA, before it, in its Chicken Little perspective, destroy the freedoms it's sworn to protect.

Posted by: Chip Sieglinger | April 8, 2009 5:44 AM    Report this comment

Let's define commonsense and unsecured aircraft. I have flown out of YQT for 23 years. The college has 8-10 foot chain link fence with barb wire around their apron. This was a certified card carrying member that performed this act. He was a student that had complete access to the aircraft. You make it sound like he jumped the cow fence and stole the thing. Don't get me wrong, this makes our life here difficult as well.

Posted by: RICHARD MARTIN | April 8, 2009 7:10 AM    Report this comment

People, as this edition of AVWEB already indicated, there was NO security breach by the pilot in Canada. He belonged there, as he was a student pilot nearly ready to solo. While it is common sense to keep your aircraft keys with you, (DOH), the brown shirts at TSA cannot save us from the single crazy pilot who wants to commit a suicidal act. Unless of course we give the brown shirts all of our airplane keys- which is exactly what THEY want.

Posted by: Art Ahrens | April 8, 2009 7:32 AM    Report this comment

The pilot was a long time student well known to flight school personnel. He could just as easily have booked the flight as a solo cross-country and then not followed the route planned with the instructor. If you are trying to make a case for anything you should get your facts straight otherwise you're credibility takes a nose div and you become just another manic member of the media mouthing off.

Posted by: Bryan Quickmire | April 8, 2009 7:43 AM    Report this comment

Please don't allow an odd incident (and mind you, this one happened offshore, far from any contols of any US agency) to justify adding to the irrational nonsense being imposed on us by TSA. Not every act can be foreseen and prevented until the time when we're all locked down in rubber rooms. I call that prison.

Posted by: Ken Calman | April 8, 2009 7:48 AM    Report this comment

I don't know the details of the security program at the subject FBO, but leaving the keys in the aircraft will probably change for them. That said, if someone wants to steal an aircraft, it is a piece of cake. The keys used by most GA manufacturers are a joke. If you have access to a dozen different Cessna keys, you can get into and start many more than a dozen aircraft. When I was an Avionics tech, we used our cache of keys to gain access to customer’s aircraft on several occasions when they would forget to leave us their keys. I'm not suggesting that we make it easy for people to grab one by leaving the keys in the plane, but having limited access will not fix the problem either. As others have already written, TSA is a joke. A bad joke that needs to be bounded. Unfortunately the general public is clueless about GA and generally the people making some of these security decisions are not from the GA community. AOPA has probably been the most proactive on the subject of GA security. They have spent considerable time working on the subject. We need to make sure that collectively we support their efforts and initiatives. Jim Pitcher

Posted by: James Pitcher | April 8, 2009 8:03 AM    Report this comment

The TSA has no jurisdiction in Canada. No amount of LASP or security watch programs can prevent a Canadian, Mexican or Cuban originated aircraft crossing the border illegally - this highlights just how ineffective such measures would be.

Posted by: Peter Sharpe | April 8, 2009 8:14 AM    Report this comment

The point is not TSA jurisdiction or effectiveness. Railing against both is pro forma for GA and defines futility. The point is perception. When alphabet groups make the legitimate argument that little airplanes represent no security threat, they're hobbled by incidents like this which could probably be prevented. If the guy was a legitimate student in good standing, why did he jump the fence? If he was in good standing and was handed the keys across the FBO counter, the flight was authorized and everyone did their bit. No beefs. In all likelihood, the F-16s stay in the barn, no matter where he goes. At least there's plausible deniability. Expecting Joe Public and his congressman to accept the keys-in-ignition argument is self delusion at best, self flagellation at worst. When at the bottom of the hole peering upward, first, stop digging.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 8, 2009 8:34 AM    Report this comment

Whether the nut that caused this recent security stir had priveledged access to this aircraft or not really isn't the point Paul is making in this blog. Instead, pilots should use this as a lesson to vigilantly secure any aircraft left on a ramp or in a hangar. You can bet that there are countless aircraft - including twins, turbo props and large jets that don't require keys for lighting the engines - parked, cabin doors unlocked on ramps waiting to be 'taken'. Let's not feed the evening news.

Posted by: LAWRENCE ANGLISANO II | April 8, 2009 8:39 AM    Report this comment

Though said above in different ways, it is not possible to legislate "total safety". As an old pilot friend used to say: "the only way to prevent aviation accidents is to ban flying".

Until the "Minority Report" capability of "pre-game" is perfected, and we can look into people's INTENTIONS, even the most draconian and security laden rules and regs will NOT BE ABLE TO PREVENT random acts of "pilot insanity" such as the one above. He was a "trusted" individual, approved for flight by flight school. Even if we had licensed psychiatrists interviewing every pilot before they took off, a pilot bent on irresponsible action will figure out how to fool the interviewer. Yes, it will take more effort, but the point being is that deterrence is just that, it is not a guarantee. Meanwhile, rational people must live with the added burden.

GA's response to proposed onerous TSA rules, and public outrage MUST include acknowledgment of this issue, and somehow over time, get the TSA and "public" to understand and accept the realities of this situation.

Posted by: Avi Weiss | April 8, 2009 8:41 AM    Report this comment

I completely agree with you Paul. It has nothing to do with the real danger - and everything to do with perceptions. I'd like to see us all use prop locks, or something similar. Would the public be happy if every small airplane had a prop lock on it? I'd take that inconvenience any day over TSA-type regs.

Posted by: ROBERT THOMASON | April 8, 2009 9:16 AM    Report this comment

Paul. Just to clear things up..He did not jump the fence..He entered the compound through a locked gate. He had a security pass.He had already soloed. He could have left with permission if he had chosen to, and deviated from his planned route. and entered US airspace. The guy has some serious, self destructive issues.

Posted by: RICHARD MARTIN | April 8, 2009 9:23 AM    Report this comment

No matter how he got the airplane, the idea of having an unlocked aircraft sitting there you could just walk up and take is dumb. Would you leave your car unlocked in the airport parking lot>

These birds, even a fairly old Skyhawk cost as much as a house does in some areas of the country. Imagine your house on a trailer that someone could drive away without any warning and that is what you are risking

Posted by: robert Kaliski | April 8, 2009 9:36 AM    Report this comment

Shouldn't the focus be on the root-problem, not on this particular anomaly? The root-problem, in my mind, is the attempt being made by TSA to control everything that THEY would like to paint as a potential threat. They show no signs of intelligent discrimination in the application of their policies. GA today, 18 wheelers and pickup trucks tomorrow. I have to view them as an insatiable bureaucratic monster that would ultimately like to control the knives and forks in your kitchen drawers. They seem to evidence strong characteristics kind of reminiscent of the Gestapo.

I really do feel that the TSA is a greater threat to life and liberty in the USA, than is General Aviation aircraft. If we don't actively resist TSA's overtures to garner more control of our lives, we will be abrogating our heritage. Eternal vigilance, being the price of liberty, cannot be delegated to a government agency. It is our responsibility, and attempts to preempt the citizenry of that sacred trust needs to be resisted.

Posted by: Chip Sieglinger | April 8, 2009 9:43 AM    Report this comment

I'm disappointed. Here is AVWeb doing exactly what we loath in the general press. Going off half cocked without making sure of the facts first.

Posted by: Richard Buckley | April 8, 2009 9:49 AM    Report this comment

From what I've read, it seems to me that were it not for the TSA and the "threat" to shoot down errant 172's, this flight would not have happened.

Posted by: William King | April 8, 2009 10:13 AM    Report this comment

I appreciate the article. It seems, however, a lot of people continue to miss the point. The challenge I take from this article is this: Those of us involved in the day to day activities of General Aviation should do a better job of being proactively responsible for the safety and security of our local airports and aircraft. Perhaps then the TSA will not feel so compelled to enforce regulations that "protect" the general public.

At this moment, I can think of a handful of airports within a 15 minute drive that all contain numerous unsecured aircraft that I could literally climb into and fly away without anyone trying to stop me. That's not a perception... it's reality. We should work to fix this problem ourselves instead of waiting for the government to come in and make our lives miserable with even more ridiculous regulations.

Posted by: Jens Torell | April 8, 2009 10:59 AM    Report this comment

Oh, please! Police our GA airplanes? Police the bloomin' truckers, powerboats, and SUVs. They are each capable of doing more damage than a small airplane. And there are many more of them.

The issue is the ineffectual intrusion by the TSA (read Big Government) into our everyday lives, not so as to protect us so much as to build a rapacious empire.

I see nothing but a whole lot of "wrapped around the axle" in this thread.

Posted by: Chip Sieglinger | April 8, 2009 11:11 AM    Report this comment

Yes, police our GA airplanes. We are a "drop in the bucket" with minimal clout. The general population, via Big Government, can crush us if they so chose. Let's not give them a reason, whether it's real or perceived.

Posted by: ROBERT THOMASON | April 8, 2009 12:35 PM    Report this comment

If the purpose of starting this blog was to criticize the FBO for lax security, that is pointless. The student pilot was known to the FBO personnel, and at virtually all FBOs everywhere, students are not queried by FBO staff (other than their own instructors) when they want to fly once they are cleared to solo. Whether the keys were in the airplane or not, his access would not have been typically questioned.

If the purpose of this blog is to raise all of our awareness to lock our airplanes, why not say so at the beginning?

As for me, I've changed the locks on my airplane to barrel-type locks, and when it is parked outside for any length of time, I also install the throttle lock.

The $1.98 locks typically installed by the manufacturers won't deter any thief. Years ago, when I worked part time for an FBO, I carried a ring of 6 keys which allowed me to open any of the 30+ airplanes tied on the line. That's why I changed my airplane's locks and why I also have the throttle lock.

Let's focus on the problem, OK?

Cary

Posted by: Cary Alburn | April 8, 2009 3:46 PM    Report this comment

Whether the keys were in the airplane or not, his access would not have been typically questioned.<<

Actually, this may not be true and is at the core of the incident. We are attempting to confirm this, but we believe the intercept was initiated because the flight was reported as unauthorized. Had the student taken the airplane on an authorized flight, he could have flown south without incident. In other words, he had to steal the airplane to make his plan work out. Without the keys, that would have been harder. The school just made it easier, that's all.

And that's the point. A simple solution to a simple problem and that is exactly the focus.

Throttle locks and Medco sets won't stop the determined thief, of course, but at least you are making the commonsense effort. That counts for something.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 8, 2009 4:07 PM    Report this comment

At our flight school in Vancouver Canada, we have to fill in all the papers before they give us the keys which are never left in any airplanes, but I could just as easily fill in the papers, get the keys and take off and head south without a flight plan and do the same thing this idiot did. However, even as an ex-cop, I don't get this whole TSA thing. If I was American, I understand I'm allowed the right to a gun guaranteed in the US Constitution, with very little in the way of security checks. I can easily get hold of an assault rifle and a pile of fertilizer, some blasting caps and a big Ryder truck and cause all sorts of mayhem, so where does all this rubbish about GA being a grave threat to the Nation with passenger screening and all sorts of other onerous security requirements come from. I think the US has really gone overboard with these things. The next step will be to have us all wear hospital gowns before we board flights, so it is obvious we aren’t hiding something dangerous. I understand the need to be security conscious, but it shouldn't be so onerous as to make the entire effort of flying too much of a burden so that we just stay at home. I think the GA Movement in the States should hire some folks from the NRA to do some lobbying on your behalf, and then watch the issue disappear.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | April 8, 2009 4:27 PM    Report this comment

Believe me, Trevor, that very few outside the TSA itself (and for that matter I suspect very few of the TSA workers themselves) believe that its policies and practices provide any real benefit to national security. My view (shared by many): It is an out of control agency with very little oversight, run by paranoid storm trooper wannabes.

A recent local TV expose interviewed a number of current and former TSA employees--and to a person, they agreed with my comments (and had a lot of other bad things to say about the agency and the supervisors, as well). Sad, isn't it?

Cary

Posted by: Cary Alburn | April 8, 2009 4:42 PM    Report this comment

How soon we forget the damage a 172 has done - Charlie Bishop attacked a building in Tampa and took out a desk and the windows. I want further discussion of the motive of this new case - he launched specifically to get shot down? Seems he had not heard of Charlie Bishop either - Air Force was unconcerned with his overflights of the airbase.

Posted by: Jeffrey L Pierson | April 8, 2009 9:59 PM    Report this comment

Mark my words, this incident WILL come back to haunt all of us. We are under attack every day in the mass media, targets of the class warfare and the "eat the rich" mentality of the general population. From corporate aircraft operation to GA, we are seen as excessive by many. If they can use the cover of a implied security risk, they will add it to the list of reasons to pull all our plugs...We must police ourselves, every day, in every way, less the villagers with the torches do it for us.

Posted by: Stuart Forsyth | April 9, 2009 12:18 AM    Report this comment

Glad to see some sanity here. The stealing of a Cessna will do some, perhaps a lot of damage to our cause. If you read the non-avation blogs, like the USAToday one concerning this, there is a tremendous amount of misperception about aviation. We need to correct that.

Paul, et al, you guys have the ability to get to mainstream media and educate.

Under the www.stoplasp.com website, we have a reporter (TV) in the local area that is interested in helping, he has flown and worked around GA for years and participates in the local CAF functions.

The TSA will stop all flying if they can, it's safer. They can't go after trucks because the shelves wouldn't be stocked, somebody said it before, we're an easy target.

Let's tear down the bull's eye.

Posted by: John Hyle | April 9, 2009 5:46 AM    Report this comment

Absolutely agree Paul. The world has changed and it's time for the mindset of some in GA to change with it. When I was growing up you didn't need to lock the doors of the house when going out or overnight. Do now! Could leave the car unlocked when at the store or out running errands. Not now! It's not too much to ask for some basic and commonsense security measures here. What's amazing is that some folks actually take issue with it.

Posted by: Mark Simmons | April 9, 2009 5:59 AM    Report this comment

This couldn't have happened at a worse time. "Private" aviation in general is considered by the public as something in which only the "rich" participate. We live in an era of populism and class warfare. GA is just one more target. We cast a very small proportion of the vote.

Posted by: Jim Carroll | April 9, 2009 7:12 AM    Report this comment

A good comparison to this event would be a scenario where a fully qualified, employed ATP decided to commit suicide, and thus banked his aircraft towards the capital of Wisconsin or who knws where. In this cae, would the TSA be screaming that something needs to be done to keep ATPs off their scheduled flghts? The answer isn;t to keep qualified people off the ramp. In the extremely rare and bizarre sitation we had this week, the reaction was exactly as it should have been. F-16s scrambled and were prepared to shoot down the 172 if it appreared to threaten anything or anyone. It didn't, and they didn't. That's terrific restraint by the fighterjockeys (not to mention challenging flight at 110 kts in a jet fighter). This is how is't supposed to work.

Posted by: David Thompson | April 9, 2009 8:58 AM    Report this comment

I think everyone needs to realize one thing, you cant mandate against stupid.People are going to do Stupid things and there is nothing that can be done about that, it just hurts GA when it's one of us. Also When will the TSA learn that small planes are not a threat to the American way of life. It has to do more with wealth envy,and class warfare. The TSA needs to mind their own business and continue to take shampoo and tooth paste from little old ladies, like that is going to help national security.

Posted by: JAY BOWLER | April 9, 2009 9:55 AM    Report this comment

You cannot prevent a cleared person from committing theft of aircraft to which he's already obtained approval for access ...without making the penalty EXPENSIVE. Make aircraft-theft a FELONY with SERIOUS IMPRISONMENT MANDATORY, if you want to influence this sort of activity, and make careless owners/operators subject to serious fines/penalties for leaving aircraft unlocked and with-keys on ramps or outside of hangars on public airports. WE have to impose these rules UPON OURSELVES. I'm going out the 50-feet to my private hangar on my private property and turning OFF the electricity to my hangar-door and locking the hangar right now!

Posted by: George Horn | April 9, 2009 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Here in Southern California we have a phenomenon known as the high speed chase. It usually occurs when someone steals a car, the police attempt to stop the vehicle for some reason, and the perpetrator takes off. A media frenzy ensues and the local TV stations suspend all normal activity to provide moment by moment coverage. Eventually, the police get the errant vehicle stopped and arrest the perpetrator. It happens about once a week.

Sound familiar? Seems to me it's not far different than what happened with the 172. But there is one key difference that I think is vital for us to focus on. In Southern California, the public views the incident as entertainment. In the case of the 172, the public views the incident as a security threat. Forget the reality that these two incidents aren't much different in terms of their real public threat. The damage done to our collective avocations is due to the difference in public perceptions.

Certainly we should make every effort to prevent these kinds of stunts in aircraft, just as we make every effort to prevent car theft. But it is a reality that we cannot completely prevent car thefts, and more than we can completely prevent stupid stunts in airplanes.

What we need to focus on is the difference in public perception of these incidents - and figure out how to change that perception so that stupid stunts with aircraft are perceived by the public in no worse light than stupid stunts in ground vehicles.

Posted by: Norm Smith | April 9, 2009 10:53 AM    Report this comment

I'm with George H. Great idea.

Posted by: David Thompson | April 9, 2009 10:56 AM    Report this comment

Bertorelli is right. This is all about PUBLIC PERCEPTION, not logical arguements. LOCK your airplane, TAKE your keys. It's that easy. You do it with your car without thinking. Why make it easy for media types looking for a cheap story, or grandstanding politicians, or TSA bureaucrats looking for a bigger budget? Just lock the damn door already.

Posted by: s ratkovich | April 9, 2009 11:08 AM    Report this comment

A discussion about GA security are not relevent here. This wasn't a carelessly unattended aircraft taken by a random perp. This man used legally obtained means to access the ramp through a locked gate. Saying we could have done more does not assuage fears among the public.

Besides, the current procedures to deal with intruders worked; the appropriate organizations acted quickly and with prudence. The aircraft was deemed not hostile soon after chase pilots made visual contact; the perp was apprehended after landing. WE (pilots/aircraft owners) are making this a much bigger deal than it is.

I believe suggesting the public (those who even cared at any rate) was spooked by this incident gives the general population too little credit for intelligence. Could such comments color public perceptions of "elitist" pilots and aircraft owners?

Finally, I was a bit distressed to read a segment in the local paper (it was an AP story I believe) about how NORAD quickly assessed this aircraft as non-hostile, choosing not to shoot it down. My guess is any of the "ignorant" public fearing dreaded C-172s after hearing the initial story will sleep just fine now. My question is why didn't AvWeb run THIS story? Why berate and admonish a GA community ALREADY taking appropriate security precautions (at least in this case)? To me, it comes across as sanctimonious and self-righteous...

Posted by: Mark Sletten | April 9, 2009 12:58 PM    Report this comment

EVERY comment I have read has neglected the REAL purpose of this flight! The INTENTION of that "student" was MARTYRDOM"! It seems to me a wake-up from "9/11" never happend. BLAME YOURSELF for the blindness. The TSA knows the threat but WE will suffer for it.

Posted by: Larry Fries | April 9, 2009 2:03 PM    Report this comment

In my view the real bad guys here are the sensationalist media. A disturbed person decides to essentially commit suicide by cop. How in the hell does that rate national media coverage on the 6 o'clock news? If the guy had stolen a car nobody would have known a thing about it.

A small airplane has a problem getting it's gear down, the equivalent of getting a flat tire in your car whie driving, and the news breaks away from scheduled programming with "breaking news". Its absurd.

The media is smart enough to know that 172 posed no terrorist threat, but they took advantage of a paranoid public perception that they have helped foster in the interest of ratings.

With every passing day I have less respect for them. Without them the TSA wouldnt be a significant threat to GA. I wonder where the economy would be today without the continuous doom and gloom presented by them?

Posted by: Mike Wills | April 9, 2009 2:59 PM    Report this comment

Let's see, the last time I tried it took me less than 10 seconds to open a locked Cessna door with the file on a set of fingernail clippers. The longest it has taken me (factory Cessna door locks) was just over a minute. So if I open the locked door, cut the P-leads, and prop the plane, I figure I can be airborne in just about 3 minutes (if I don't bother with a preflight). Add a prop lock to that and it will take me another few seconds with a bolt cutter. With a throttle lock I might have to go to another aircraft although I am pretty sure if I wanted to I could figure out how to remove or negate one of those also. If a professional wants to steal an aircraft, it will be stolen. On the other hand making it as hard as possible is the smart thing to do, maybe they'll go steal someone elses' plane instead. You need to do what you can to secure your aircraft, not because of TSA, because you want to make it as hard as possible for someone to steal it. Having worked, and retired from, Airport Security, I can tell you TSA is around to mollify the public and expand their area of influence. If a determined person wants to get something into an airport or onto an aircraft it will happen and TSA won't be able to stop them. The only good thing I can say about the TSA is that at least now the screeners have to be able to speak english.

Posted by: Duane Hallman | April 10, 2009 1:09 PM    Report this comment

A FAR 25 designed aircraft is just as easy to steal. The main point is the risk. With all the hype how many cars were stolen that day?

Keep in mind that the basic panel van can do far more damage than any light aircraft can. Need I remind everyone that both the twin towers and the Oklahoma City bombing was highly sucessful.

What you have is the political machinery providing one very much smaller group identified as a potential source of attack versus the much larger and more capable group. Light aircraft are simply to visible a target.

There is no restrictions on the control of panel vans?

Posted by: Christopher Basham | April 10, 2009 1:55 PM    Report this comment

A long-time friend of mine who works frequently with general aviation came in to work this week furious that the fighter pilots had not immdeiately shot down this maniacal threat to our national security. Let us not underestimate the emotional (read: not logical) impact of such an event, fed by a media that views itself as entertainment, not education.

We should always remember that when it comes to politics, it is not the most logical nor the most numerous voices that are heard - it is the loudest. As such, I would encourage all here not to limit their voices to this blog. We need to speak loudly - through our actions and words - that GA, despite its inherent vulnerabilities, is not a substantial threat to national security. Refusing to at least take minimal precautions to protect our airplanes - though it would not have altered this specific outcome - makes us a huge target for increased oversight and legislation. If you don't want to take any action to prevent anything like this from happening, the TSA will happily come along to make you.

Posted by: Donald Harper | April 10, 2009 4:04 PM    Report this comment

The latest AvWeb title for this article reads:

"School Reviews Security After 172 Theft (Corrected)"

Further in that correction is the stastement: "The flight school whose Cessna 172 was stolen for a cross-border flight Monday says security was not compromised in the incident because the alleged thief was a student who had normal access to the aircraft."

Once again the media blew it and rushed headlong into material error.

And guess what? The "Aviation" media were right there in the middle of the hoard of lemmings.

How about it Paul? Any "correction" from you?

The "enemy" is NOT us - it's the never-ending line of bums pushing crap to make a buck.

Whether it is bankers selling fraudulent financial derivatives or fantasy boogymen behind every tree requiring Big Brother in the guise of the TSA, it's all woven from the same cloth.

A pox on all their houses.

Posted by: Walter Freeman | April 12, 2009 6:56 PM    Report this comment

Actually, the correction in the story related to a misattributed quote. This fact remains salient: The flight was unauthorized. Whether it would or wouldn't have happened if the airplane wasn't parked with the keys is immaterial--it was parked with the keys in it. It's not too much to ask to owners, FBOs and schools not to do that. If the flight school tells us they did authorize the flight, I'll stand corrrected. They haven't done that.

While I'm as disenchanted as everyone else with the TSA, I'm less impressed when GA plays its victim role by not taking simple steps like locking airplanes.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 13, 2009 5:53 AM    Report this comment

Locks, shmocks. A Turkish criminal came from Canada to commit a suicidal act in the USA! THAT needs attention.

Posted by: Larry Fries | April 13, 2009 11:14 AM    Report this comment

A Turkish Criminal???? If he was a criminal he wouldn't have qualified for Canadian Citizenship or been granted a visa when they do background checks (believe it or not Canada works closely with the US in sharing data bases). Do you have any idea how many American Criminals from all sorts of racial and ethnic backgrounds come to Canada to commit homicidal acts? Once again, American paranoia running wild, Canada is not some soft place that grants Citizenship to all sorts of terrorists and criminals. How many of the 9/11 perpetrators had Canadian passports and did their flight training in Canada? Let's get things in perspective, a student pilot who had access to an aircraft at his flight school decided to do an idiotic thing and flew south of the border with the hope that he would get shot down by F-16s, clearly he is a nut job, but watch the US news and see how many lunatics steal cars and go on high speed chases and hope to die via "Suicide by Cop". Yes, the plane was not locked, but what would have stopped the guy from doing the same thing after he signed the plane out to do curcuits, with full authority. If I rent a car and then decide to ram it headlong into a bus full of people on purpose, who would know that was my intention when I rented it and who would stop me? Let's keep our feet on the ground here lw fries.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | April 13, 2009 2:00 PM    Report this comment

If he really wanted to commit suicide by way of F-16 all he had to do is get on the radio and say he had a plane full of radioactive material and he was headed to the White house. He would be blown from the sky in a heart beat!!

Posted by: JAY BOWLER | April 13, 2009 2:51 PM    Report this comment

Now let's see, he stole an airplane and flew unlawfully accross an Internatonal Border. What part is made legal by becomming a Canadia citizen? Mr. Evans, Sir, if I may; It seems you haven't been up on the news. We have been at WAR with "MARTYR Terrorists" for about 8 yrs. Asy any person, who has lost a loved one, if the deed was done by a fellow citizen would it be "OK"? MARTYRS do NOT do idiotic things. At least in THEIR own minds! Before you scold ME, educate yourself. You owe it to us all.

Posted by: Larry Fries | April 13, 2009 4:37 PM    Report this comment

Lets get away from the histrionics. Why say the suicidal pilot wanted to be a "MARTYR" with all the religious conotations implied? All we know is a student pilot decided life wasn't worth living, wanted to die, but didn't feel capable of doing the deed directly (and also wanted someone to notice his passing). So, how to get someone to kill oneself in a way that's sure to get press attention?

The Canadian thought: "I'll make an unauthorized flight into the USA. I'm sure they will shoot me down!" Could an American student pilot have pulled the same stunt, saying "I'll steal a plane and fly into Canada. They'll scramble a CF-18A or two and shoot me down!" I don't think so. (No, he would have had to go berserk with a stapler at Vancouver airport to get the RCMP to tazer him!)

I believe most Canadians are surprised he didn't get shot down. After all, we know US fighter jocks can be trigger happy sometimes (four Canadians died a few years ago when one National Guardsman thought a live fire practice in Afghanistan could actually harm him at altitude, and didn't wait for the AWACS to get back to him before dropping his bombs.) Maybe the F-16 pilots forgot to take their amphetamines? Anyway, we are all pretty impressed at the restraint shown. I salute the folks a NORAD and the obedient pilots.

JL De Foa, MD, private pilot.

Posted by: Lance De Foa | April 13, 2009 10:13 PM    Report this comment

Mr. LW Fries, I think that having spent the last several years in Iraq and Dubai as a security consultant (I'm an ex-cop and ex-military) I'm pretty clued up on the war on terror and I have lost several friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan so I do know exactly how that feels. He was no longer a Turkish National, he was Canadian, he became a Canadian/US Criminal by stealing a plane in Canada and flying that plane across the border into the USA without a flight plan and without permission. I did not hear it reported anywhere that he was claiming to be trying to martyr himself by a terrorist act, I do believe it was reported that he was trying to commit suicide by F-16. I think perhaps you should educate yourself on the meaning of "martyr". As for flying unlawfully across an international border, are you aware of how many illegal flights originating from Mexico, Central and South America are intercepted on their way into the Southern USA by the USCG and their AWACS Aircraft? I can tell you from first hand experience this is almost a daily occurance and most are intercepted by MH-60s filled with ICE and ATF Agents. But you don't hear about this much because the pilots are usually not Turkish and therefore implied muslim terrorists (Are you aware Turkey is a NATO member country and an ally of the USA, as is Canada?) They are just simple drug smugglers...but heh, let's have a field day about one guy in a 172 coming from Canada because he is Turkish in origin.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | April 14, 2009 3:57 AM    Report this comment

Hurray for you Trevor – just how many planes are stolen in the US, in Mexico and Bahamas? There is little to this story other than the hype.

Posted by: Christopher Basham | April 14, 2009 6:46 AM    Report this comment

Thanks men. I needed that. I guess paranoia is stirring the TSA out of me. Now THAT is scarey. At least I haven't bragged about knowing how to steal airplanes.

Posted by: Larry Fries | April 14, 2009 10:17 PM    Report this comment

No worries, I guess we all just need to take a step back and put things into perspective once in a while....which would also be good advice for the TSA folks too.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | April 15, 2009 12:31 AM    Report this comment

Stating a fact that it is very easy to steal an aircraft with just a little bit of knowledge is not bragging it's making a point. If someone wants to steal an airplane they WILL steal it. It is up to you to make it as difficult as possible.

Posted by: Duane Hallman | April 15, 2009 12:29 PM    Report this comment

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