Glider Incident No Threat To Freedom To Fly

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Some of our readers and colleagues in the aviation media were full of righteous indignation last week when AOPA published a highly-charged account of a glider pilot who'd been arrested after flying over a nuclear power plant.

Of course, anyone who reads AOPA or us knows just about how much damage a glider pilot with evil intent could actually do to the concrete containment structure of a nuke plant so the notion that it was a security threat is laughable to us. The fact that there is nothing illegal about flying at normal altitudes over this facility added fuel to white hot vitriol around the notion of individual freedoms, not to mention the remote possibility that one of the sheriffs involved might have considered taking a shot at the glider.

But as I saw it, there was a gaping hole in the story that I wanted to fill before presenting it to our readers. AOPA writer Sarah Brown did try to get comment from the Darlington County Sheriff's Department for the original story but as is so often the case with police departments caught acting absurdly they did not return her calls. I left a message on the public phone number, not really expecting a return call and I wasn't disappointed. No one called.

But I guess I wasn't the only one filling up their voicemail box and, based on the few notes we received from our readers on the story, I can imagine what was on that tape. It did prompt Sheriff J. Wayne Byrd to call Brown to give his side of the story and it's pretty much what I expected.

You had to read quite a ways through a long story focused mainly on arcane regulations and flight restrictions, the actions of the sheriffs and the apparent civil rights violations that occurred (not to mention the bizarre scenario of a bevy of siren-wailing police cars chasing a rapidly decelerating glider down the runway) to find out that it was officials at the nuclear plant who called the sheriff and who characterized the overflight as a "security threat."

If there's anything the average person knows less about than aviation it's probably nuclear energy and when someone at the local nuke plant presses the panic button I'm guessing the local sheriff takes it pretty seriously. No one wants to be the one who drops the ball in responding to that kind of threat.

Once at the airport, the responding officers were faced with a steep learning curve about airplanes and the rules that govern them in the context of getting a call about a perceived security threat to a nuclear reactor.

Sheriff Byrd said as much in AOPA's followup story and he allowed that his troops likely should have been able to turn the temperature down a lot faster than they did. The FBI and the TSA's interest didn't help. But that's where it stopped being an aviation story.

What happened to the pilot after his unjustified arrest smacks of the type of heavy-handed ass covering that only law enforcement and government agencies can employ. It should result in a civil rights investigation and the Darlington County folks should have a hard look at the manner in which they are policed. The FBI and TSA might also want to look at their procedures.

But I doubt the incident has any implications for aviation beyond Darlington County (and maybe not there) because aviation is so thoroughly misunderstood by those outside it and, thanks to the horrible events of 9/11, an airplane, any airplane, can turn into a perceived weapon of mass destruction.

I don't think there's much we in aviation can do to change that perception but we can perhaps be a little more generous in our judgment of those who occasionally mistake us for the enemy and maybe a little less insecure about them. Isolated incidents like this, scary and annoying though they may be, are not a fundamental threat to our freedom to fly.

What might help, however, is a little training for nuclear power plant personnel to fine tune their threat meters. Anyone with the authority to call in a perceived security threat should have the knowledge necessary to better judge those threats.

Maybe AOPA should start there.

Comments (90)

Russ:

Left out of your analysis is this: each time that someone in aviation points out that is completely lawful, John Q Public (and a bevy of room-temperature-IQ politicians) assert "well, it shouldn't be lawful!" A former mayor of Chicago actually petitioned the Federal government to outlaw GA over his fair city. And a lot of Windy City denizens defended his request.

The current dust-up over guns in America is just one incarnation of collectivism versus individual rights and responsibilities. To any extent that incidents like “Glidergate” are dismissed as “nothing to see here; move on,” we surrender liberty to collectivism.

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | January 21, 2013 6:45 AM    Report this comment

May I suggest that as pilots, most likely prominent members of our local communities, as well as members of various organizations (aviation and otherwise) take this incident as an opportunity to use those connections and offer to explain to the local utility (factory, natural gas, etc.) manager, what exactly is the status of the airspace around and above his facitlity. Offer, under controlled circumstances, to provide a first hand demondstration for what 1,000 feet of separation looks like from the ground and perhaps have a chat with the local constable as well about the same topics. Everyone would benefit from the dialog and these folks are dealing with very limited budgets to address issues like these. Take them to the airport and show them what a light aircraft feels like, what kind of mass there is, the thickness of the wing skin, and give them the opportunity to determine for themselves the likely result of a potential encounter for their plant. Russ is right, we should not surrender, but we should also not fail to take action.

Posted by: Geoff Reid | January 21, 2013 7:20 AM    Report this comment

My glider club operates in roughly the same area of the world as the subject pilot in the the AOPA article. We are very familiar with locals getting all worked up about things they know nothing of. Luckily, the airport managers are usually on our side. A few of our pilots called the pilot and he relayed that the airport personnel that called him on the CTAF told him "local police are requesting" that he land, but reminded him that he was under no obligation to land, and that they did not have the authority to require it. At the time, the local cops were running around the airport telling the FBO people that they were "commandeering" the airport and putting up a lot of good-ol-boy BS designed to intimidate. The bogus "Breach of the peace" charge was added to keep him in custody for the Feds and to provide leverage to keep him quiet and protect their ignorant butts from a false imprisonment claim. The general consensus in our club is that if this type of idiocy happened to us, we'll go into stealth mode and land out someplace nice and quiet, something that gliders are designed to do. The silver lining here is that the Nuke plant security and sheriff's department now know what the FAA regs are and what a glider is. After being embarassed, they are unlikely to make this mistake again. I am still surprised that anyone ever noticed him. Gliders in a wide-open sky are difficult to see and are silent at thermalling speeds, especially at 1000 ft AGL.

Posted by: Scott Thomason | January 21, 2013 8:00 AM    Report this comment

The line that they kept asking him "Haven’t you heard about 9/11?" should have been answered by "haven't you heard of the Constitution? Law enforcement is becoming an oxymoron.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2013 8:18 AM    Report this comment

Most probably recall the Long Beach eposode experienced by a single-engine pilot who had filed an EAPIS for a flight to, I believe, Mexico, had their departure blocked by multiple vehicles from which "screaming" agents from several agencies leaped wielding automatic weapons, shut them down,forced the group to deplane, searched aircraft, luggage, wallets, purses, etc., then departed after chaarcterizing it as a "routine ramp check". Or the John & Martha King Cessna 172 incident where an unidentified "private company" utilizing an outdated database initiated a chain of events which resulted in Santa Barbara police "taking down" the Kings and handcuffing them in the back of a police car for an extended period.

While all these incidents can be said to result from a chain of errors, primarily they rest on the politically popular "security theater" that received such a boost from the 911 attack. As Tom Yarsley notes, any politician is on safe ground when he or she proposes more restrictions on any group that has limited political heft.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 21, 2013 9:25 AM    Report this comment

When reading about what happened at Three Mile Island, and other nuclear plant incidents, especially at Windscale in the UK, you are struck that there are some seriously thick people in decision making positions on the loose in nuclear plants... (that valve look rusty and starting to leak, don't worry!). This is just further confirmation.

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | January 21, 2013 9:37 AM    Report this comment

Russ has some DANGEROUS thoughts in his belief he "doubts this has much significance beyond (that local area").

WRONG. We are seeing a titantic struggle between various govt. agencies, looking to extend their power over the so-called "security" issue.

These folks want to use the threat of terrorism to attack general aviation ? Well, let's take em at their word and act accordingly.

If you receive a call on an aviation frequency ordering you to do something, IMMEDIATELY

1) ask them WHO they are and WHERE they are.2) tell them to meet you on 121.5. Get on 121.5 and DECLARE AN EMERGENCY. Set your transponder on the EMERGENCY code. Broadcast that you have received a questionable communication on an aviation frequency, that you do not know whether it is authorized or terrorism, and are proceeding to an AIRPORT WITH AN OPERATING CONTROL TOWER. At this point the nearest ATC will come up, see if they know what is going on.

All manner of news junkies monitor 121.5 at all hours, and record same.

First and foremost, this will make sure whoever is trying to mess with general aviation gets major attention from the news media.

Secondly, this should force various govt. agencies to communicate with one another. You are less likely to be attacked, either physically or legally, when whoever is up to something know other agencies are involved.

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 21, 2013 9:48 AM    Report this comment

The perspective that this, and like incidents previously mentioned are of little consequence remind me of the cold blooded frog setting in a pot on the stove top. As the temperature slowly rises the frog merrily gives little notice of each increasing degree. The frog dies never knowing anything changed.

Posted by: C. David Buchanan | January 21, 2013 11:30 AM    Report this comment

@Mark: I'm sure it would feel good, but there's a time and a place for things like that. Being a smartass whether you're in the right or not isn't a bright thing to do with already high-strung (and probably embarrassed-and-covering-it-up) LEOs.

Posted by: Michael Mullins | January 21, 2013 11:36 AM    Report this comment

I was astonished by a few things in the AOPA article: 1."Charges were dropped after the pilot agreed not to pursue" legal remedies against the county. (Ummm, drop the charges because that the just thing to do. It's irrelevant to what the legal actions of the pilot are going to be). 2. As a pilot I queried a friend of mine who worked as an engineer at a local nuclear power plant. The reactor dome is designed for a greater impact than even a DC-3 could deliver. 3. As a well trained Public Affairs person, I'm astonished that the Sheriff's department personal is so badly trained when it comes to a media presence. No one should be talking in the presence of media, without a script reviewed by the departments PA officer. That's basic ICS (Incident Command)course stuff. The fact that some crackpot officer is stating things like "we're going to commandeer the airport." or anything having to do with shooting down a GA airplane, is really, really interesting. Must be that not much happens in that county, and this incident was an opportunity for someone to say...ala Alexander Haag...."I'm in charge." On the back side of this, there should be a few officers seeking unemployment. A lawsuit by the pilot. An apology issued by the Sheriff. An upgrade of Standard Operating Procedure by the nuclear power plant and a few other things. Simply unbelievable.

Posted by: Kevin Jarchow | January 21, 2013 12:13 PM    Report this comment

It is interesting that the first comment(with which I agree)is about our rights (guns and flying). This is a symptom of bigger problems. Flying and shooting are among the most highly regulated activities on the planet. This incident should serve as a reminder as to just how much GA is perceived as a threat (both activities are much feared by outsiders). As we move closer to a socialist society, a complete gun ban will eventually be attempted, because socialism and an armed society are incompatible. (because an individual can opt out of Capitalism but for "success", while socialism requires everyone to participate). Do you really think that aircraft would not soon follow. If you think "that could never happen here", you may want to have a closer look at Germany in the 1930s. This is not about your safety or mine. It is about power, who has it and who does not. Enjoy your freedom to fly while you still can.

Posted by: kim peck | January 21, 2013 12:21 PM    Report this comment

...we can perhaps be a little more generous in our judgment of those who occasionally mistake us for the enemy and maybe a little less insecure about them. Isolated incidents like this, scary and annoying though they may be, are not a fundamental threat to our freedom to fly.'

The scariest thing about this statement is seeing from the many posts here how few are able to have this objective viewpoint and instead, use the very fear they are so paralyzed from - which really is a demonstration of a personal lack of creative control of their own lives - and choose to ring their bells of helplessness to warn others of, only, their own powerlessness.

This is just another opportunity to show our maturity and shine light instead of the heat of fear of 'socialism' or 'jackboots on the cul-de-sac' and maybe come a step closer to finally realizing absolutely everything is intertwined and affects everyone else, especially aviation and those still afraid of it.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 21, 2013 2:04 PM    Report this comment

Miller is SO right. We MUST take control of this kind of abuse before someone gets fired on. Again, as I noted earlier, best way is to 1) find out who and where the person is who wants to interfre with your aircraft operation and 2) get over to 121.5, Squawk 7700, and start COMMUNICTING with ATC. Make sure they understand you are excercising your emergency authority to go directly the base of a STAFFED control tower where you will meet with LEGITIMATE law enforcement.

We will all be a lot safer when LEGITIMATE law enforcement "educates" the "cowboy mentality" BEFORE one of them shoots us.

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 21, 2013 4:54 PM    Report this comment

Famous quotes, updated:

First they came for the gun owners, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a gun owner.

Then they came for the pilots, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a pilot.

Then they came for the businessmen, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a businessman.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 21, 2013 6:10 PM    Report this comment

@Michael, I do not believe that protections of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is being a "smartass". High strung local officers need to chill out and realize that they still need to follow Federal rules and procedures. Rushing a glider on a runway is stupid from any aspect and such individuals who exceed their authority should be punished to the FULL EXTENT OF THE LAW.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2013 9:40 PM    Report this comment

Russ, I am glad you finally decided to pick this up. I can't help but wonder how you're going to fare when some out of his silly brain Sheriff decides to put a couple of holes in your airplane, your rear end or your head, for flying something he/she doesn't understand too close to something he/she doesn't understand. We're already considered environmental terrorists for having lead in our gas, how much longer until someone decides that we are a unbearable risk to national security? :o(

Posted by: Jason Baker | January 22, 2013 9:13 AM    Report this comment

Jason has it right. We have to stop this nonsence NOW before one of us gets SHOT. Read my suggestions about 1) ASK who and where they are 2) declare an emergency on 121.5. There are litterly thousands of journalistic "wanna-be's" who monitor our frequencies. Then get in touch with ATC and tell them WHY you think something's fishy. By the time you land at YOUR choice of a secure PUBLIC airport, you WILL be the center of a MAJOR news event. Shining a "news spotlight" on this crap is the best way to insure COMPETENT aviation law enforcement is involved, and that the irresponsible will be punished. Severely.

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 22, 2013 9:34 AM    Report this comment

PAGE TWO ( of my above post ) Remember, when we are in an exciting situation, we tend to talk too fast. Talk SLOWLY. And when you get swarmed by news media, something like this might be appropraite "as aviators we are bound by American aviation law, pursuant to long-standing agreements under IACO (International Convention Of Aviation Organizations). This radio call to me (or conduct if they catch you on the ground - again - get on 121.5 FAST) was so groslly wierd - would make any reasonable person suggest foul play or even terrorism dressed up like American law enforcement".

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 22, 2013 9:40 AM    Report this comment

Peter, it appears to me as if the story really didn't get any attention from the flying public at large, until it hit the news in "TheAtlantic". While the issue was obviously used as a promo tool for additional AOPA services with AOPA members, those who don't belong to this organization didn't know. It didn't make AOPA website headlines until sometime last week, long after a variety of discussion boards had picked it up. I had to wonder how I had to learn about this from an online newspaper that had once written the article "Private Jet, Public Menace", which caused quite some upset. This should have been dead front center on every aviation site out there, except, half a year ago, when it happened. We're sound asleep at the wheel for not making each other aware of stuff like this. What bugs me most is the fact that they retained the guy and released him only after he had agreed not to press charges. What a joke!

Posted by: Jason Baker | January 22, 2013 9:49 AM    Report this comment

Jason - all the more reason to THINK how serious this is. Why making this a MAJOR NEWS EVENT is vital to our safety. Why TAKING COMMAND of the situation is so vital to your safety. Responsible flight crew have moving maps and know EACTLY where they are, so that when they tell ATC where they are and where they are going, there are no further questions about that. Once you have declared an emergency, YOU, not ANYONE else tells you which airport you are going to, to meet law enforcement.

And as for this crap about "well, if you just agree not to sue us...sign here". Simple. You read them their "Miranda Rights" . When they ask what in helll you are doing - you explain that they haver 60 seconds to release you and guarantee your damages, or you are placing THEM under arrest for violating Title 14, U.S. CFR, and will be requesting a federal marshal to transport them to a federal facility for processing and booking. Interferring with a flight crew in the performance of our duties is a DANGEROUS FELONY. If people BEHAVE like terrorists, we are going to have to start treating them like terrorists.

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 22, 2013 10:01 AM    Report this comment

I doubt that the Miranda rights help in a matter of national security or if you are perceived as a risk to it. In fact, when the blues brothers show up, your human and civil rights just stumbled out the window and fell on their face. We seem to have a "escalation problem" (imo), which triggers a chain of reactions that can very well end your life or make you a permanent tenant in a federal prison without a lawyer or a judge. In this case those who couldn't tell fact from fiction overreacted royally and a 70 year old guy had no rights for some 30 hours. The risk is that such idiocy can be duplicated, anywhere, at any time, for any reason. What if a Sheriff elects to be afraid of an airplane circling over a school? There seems to be a permanent "State Of Fear" being bred and fostered and it causes some tremendous damage. Guns, Coke and Cotton-balls have all been determined dangerous and eventually will get outlawed. Can't shed the feeling that someone put General Aviation on that list, too, we just don't fully realize it yet. 15 years ago, I would have laughed if someone would have told me that stuff like this could really happen.

Posted by: Jason Baker | January 22, 2013 10:54 AM    Report this comment

"you may want to have a closer look at Germany in the 1930s" nOT JUST Germany. In the US after Pearl Harbor and until after the war if you weren't flying for the government you weren't flying. "Dec 13, 1941: The President directed the Secretary of Commerce "to exercise his control and jurisdiction over civil aviation in accordance with requirements for the successful prosecution of the war, as may be requested by the Secretary of War." The Executive order also authorized the latter "to take possession and assume control of any civil aviation system, or systems, or any part thereof, to the extent necessary for the successful prosecution of the war." Could something similar happen today? Yes it could and we should watch out for trends in this direction from environmental, security, and other agencies. I am sure a deficit reduction agenda will include reducing the funding for GA airports and improvements which will result in fewer airports.

Posted by: Rodney Hall | January 22, 2013 10:56 AM    Report this comment

Rodney and Jason point out the obvious - if and when governments go COMPLETELY out of control, anything is possible. Yes, "it can happen here". And it didn't just happen in 1941 following a formal declaration of war.

Who can forget that following the terrorist attack of 9-11-01, Americans were forbidden to fly AMERICAN aircraft in American skies. After a while, we IFR pilots could. Oh, of course Bush's buddies the Saudis could contract with all the american charter companies they wanted - THEY could use our skies but we couldnt. We can BET that the "airplane haters" in our govt. will use any incident they can to try and restrict freedom.

At this point in our history, we already have examples of "local yokels" being used by govt. officials to try and harass us. It is to that phenomena that I directed my above series of posts.

Again, you shine a spotlight on rats, and they tend to back off. That, I suggest, is our DUTY at this time.

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 22, 2013 12:12 PM    Report this comment

Most of the commenters here seem to agree that government is out of control, that government does not understand aviation or the constitution, and that this malarkey needs to stop. What Russ Niles seems to overlook (in his rose-colored glass view of things) is that every time something like this happens, 500 or 1000 potential new student pilots (and some older, wiser pilots) decide (justifiably so) that managing risks involved in general aviation is simply impossible when you have utter morons hell bent on killing someone, just to prove how powerful the government has become. “No new pilots” means our days are seriously numbered. They (Law enforcement, DHS, etc.) think they are "keeping us safe". We were never "safe", and we will never be "safe". Nothing government is doing does anything but make us less "safe" than we were before they began to engage in a war against ordinary American citizens. Look at a picture of a passenger with his hands in the air, and his pants around his ankles, in the grips of a TSA officer, and try to tell me about how we are still the land of the free.

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | January 22, 2013 1:20 PM    Report this comment

With great regret, this isn't the United States we grew up in anymore as evidenced by the increasingly sophomoric behavior of our "authority" people. I've e herd all my life the following.. "Support higher education, send a cop to third grade" and I guess it's finally come to that. Chasing a glider don a runway lights a blazin'?? Threatening to shoot him down - which would be murder by the way.. Taking his glasses away from him? This reeks of ignorant management at best and a lack of education that only serves to bolster the old saw I mentioned above..

Posted by: James Glasson | January 22, 2013 2:30 PM    Report this comment

Such unthinking and unreasoning individuals (as these local officers demonstrated that they were) should at the very least be relieved of their duties as armed law enforcement officers. Period.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 22, 2013 2:33 PM    Report this comment

I understand and forgiveness for well-intentioned mistakes, but there should be consequences for such egregious action. The sheriff admitted they did not know much about aviation law, but they proceeded to use lights, sirens, guns, and handcuffs to enforce laws they do not study and do not understand. Isn't that law enforcement's primary duty; to understand and enforce the law?

If they are unwilling or unable to read and understand the FARs they choose to enforce, maybe they should turn in their badges and go get another county job that doesn't deprive innocent citizens of their liberty.

Posted by: A Richie | January 22, 2013 2:46 PM    Report this comment

As always, we suffer greatly from the problems that our too liberal media causes! Here we have a major nasty GA-political event, yet Russ Niles sweeps it aside as "not significant"! He does not EVEN MENTION the worries of those that had to assume the glider had crashed ! Think About that! And That those "officers" really considered taking the life of the 70 year old glider pilot even though it was an obviously non-hostile airplane! That it took them MORE THAN 24hours to come to their senses! And that they made him sign a "No-Lawsuit" form! Our democracy is going down the drain fast, along with due process, bill of rights etc. What is becoming of the constitution? We have "infinite Detention" YET Russ Niles is Not concerned ??? Bruce Liddel is 110% right. I am sick and tired of this "there is nothing wrong" talk by the media types!

Posted by: Lars Gleitsmann | January 22, 2013 2:51 PM    Report this comment

Jackie Gleason...Smoky and the Bandit...that pretty much explains it!

Posted by: A Richie | January 22, 2013 2:51 PM    Report this comment

The woman on the unicom had provided the nuke people with information about aircraft overflights before. She should have referred the nuke people to the FAA the first time they asked. It is not her business and maybe not her competency to say what airplane is where or what they are doing. Had the nuke people been referred to the FAA the first time, maybe they'd have been educated on airspace and procedures. I hope the operator of the unicom directs radio operators to refer such requests for info to the FAA in the future.

Posted by: Jim Meade | January 22, 2013 3:12 PM    Report this comment

Where is the follow-up to the FBI? Per AOPA article (http://www.aopa.org/aircraft/articles/2013/130117lessons-learned-from-glider-arrest.html?WT.mc_id=130118epilot&WT.mc_sect=gan) it says:

"He said the local FBI had told them to hold the pilot for questioning, something they couldn't do without a charge." We need to know that the FBI are trained about aviation to prevent this from happening again.

Posted by: S Morgan | January 22, 2013 3:12 PM    Report this comment

The South Carolina incident is not by any measure the norm. Did the officers fail to take a step back and rethink their course of action? Likely so but by your published accounts the police response was driven to an unknown extent by two federal agencies and that is a great deal of pressure for a local law enforcement officer… They assume that federal officers are fully conversant with relevant laws. The law enforcement agencies have been taken to task by the media but not the operator of the "violated" power generation facility. We need to be equally accurate in calling attention by business name of the organization that called the police. The pilot appears to have been wronged by many and that likely will end up before a judge. That is our system and it is not a bad system. At the same time AOPA needs to take a deep breath, which I believe they have now done, and let the civil process fully unfold. This story should be monitored and as developments surface facts should be shared with your readers. This event will spark lessons learned equally important to all; power plant operator, law enforcement at all levels, and the aviation community. I will not be surprised to find restricted airspace over power plants when future aviation charts are published. That would be a shame for from my perspective these plants offer wonderful visual waypoints.

Posted by: Ronald McBride | January 22, 2013 3:25 PM    Report this comment

Russ DIDN'T sweep the event under the carpet. After all, dear friends and colleagues, you're reading about it, HERE. Many other news media outlets I contacted about this simply didn't respond, because it was old news. Russ did. I'd rather hear the opinion of a fellow aviator who thinks this is a local issue and not too concerning (opening the subject and his opinion up for debate) than what we've seen on subject from the rest of the aviation media for the last 6+ months. NOTHING. It took the darn liberal news media to make pilots aware of it. I scan 30+ aviation news sites daily for my own website and never heard a word of it until I got a Google alert, directing me to the Atlantic article. Again, the subject didn't make front page on AOPA until countless discussion boards had picked the issue up and people started asking questions. ;o)

Posted by: Jason Baker | January 22, 2013 3:31 PM    Report this comment

I left my native China and came to US 3 years ago simply for two things, to own firearms and to learn to fly. I have both now, but for how long? Or for how long can American dream still stand, if hard-working is no longer appreciated, liberty is no longer valued? I'm too young to experience Germany in 1930s or US in 1940s, but I can tell even pellet air guns are illegal in China, and even air carries have to negotiate with air force to set up a some 10 miles wide corridor to fly their jets and pay for using the airspace. Coincidence?

Posted by: Zuolei Liao | January 22, 2013 3:31 PM    Report this comment

"This event will spark lessons learned equally important to all...I will not be surprised to find restricted airspace over power plants when future aviation charts are published." ............

I do not believe that the lesson here is that MORE RESTRICTIONS need to be put on law abiding citizens! That is a tacit reward to both the idiotic plant operators and to over zealous local police. The LESSON is that less restrictions of the pre-9/11 caused less problems all around.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 22, 2013 3:44 PM    Report this comment

Of course this is all ludicrous but I'll challenge each and every one of you. Go to O'Reilly's Auto Parts anywhere and try to buy fuel injection hose and see how you get treated. Get back to me with your findings.

Posted by: Willie Sinsel | January 22, 2013 4:36 PM    Report this comment

It looks to me as if the Sheriff's Department resorted to EXTORTION in requiring the glider pilot to sign an agreement not to sue them in order to gain his release from custody. THAT would seem to be a prosecutable offense.

Posted by: Norman Best | January 22, 2013 4:44 PM    Report this comment

This is non-sense. The nuclear agency responded just as they should, an unknown potential threat. The sheriffs department responded as they should up to the point where they arrested him and put him in jail. Where's the part of this story that says what he was charged with. WHAT WERE THE CHARGES AGAINST THE MAN. How do we even proceed forward without knowing this.

Posted by: Tom B | January 22, 2013 5:04 PM    Report this comment

The Deputy at the airport should be fired and arrested for falsifying Government documents, false arrest, and abuse of power. It was said in the article, He stated in the arrest report that he repeatedly ordered the aircraft to land. The woman at the FBO was the only one in communication with the pilot and stated she only advised him once the deputy wanted him to land. If the Deputy never spoke with the pilot, how could he have repeatedly order him to land? And then the Deputy admitted to creating a charge to hold the pilot on for the convenience of the FBI/TSA. Trumped up charges for arrest is false arrest.

Posted by: Robin Shaw | January 22, 2013 5:18 PM    Report this comment

Are you folks reading and comprehending my several posts with my recommendations ? Or are you just "venting" ?

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 22, 2013 5:35 PM    Report this comment

There is one way and one way only to deal with this kind of situation. Do not talk to cops. Do not talk to cops. Do not talk to cops. I also find it very, very hard to believe that the pilot agreed not to sue in order to get them to drop those trumped-up, bogus charges. If this ever happens to you, GET A LAWYER!

Posted by: paul bennett | January 22, 2013 5:45 PM    Report this comment

This isn't an isolated incident. See here: http://www.pixiq.com/article/houston-man-receives-visit-from-fbi-after-photographing-weather

Security paranoia is becoming a US national pastime.

Posted by: Leigh Bunting | January 22, 2013 5:52 PM    Report this comment

www.pixiq.com/article/houston-man-receives-visit-from-fbi-after-photographing-weather

Sorry, the link didn't appear

Posted by: Leigh Bunting | January 22, 2013 5:53 PM    Report this comment

Dear Peter Hartmann, Thanks for Posting, I really appreciate Your comments and hints given! regards!

Posted by: Lars Gleitsmann | January 22, 2013 6:02 PM    Report this comment

Lars - thank you for your gracious response. Sadly, looks like I wasted my time - in that most of the posdts in here just seem to be folks "venting"; I dont see any of them comprehending what I recommend.

Looks like folks just want to "vent" - apparently little interest in actually exchanging ideas

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 22, 2013 6:42 PM    Report this comment

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We got to stick together guys & gals or they will rip our wings off and we will never fly again.

Posted by: Johnny Carter | January 22, 2013 6:51 PM    Report this comment

At my airport, KMCK, on 7/22/2010 there was a crash between a turboprop spray plane and a a Piper Cub with only one injury and no fatalities. As a member fo the airport advisory board that evening I went to take pictures and stepped over the yellow tape but stayed out of the debris field. I took 2 pics and a regional airline employee came out and told me it was a crime scene and it was illegal to be in there. I asked him who told him to watch the crash site. He said someone in his office, but did not know who asked them. I told him he did not have authority to be out on the ramp pulling security and walked away. By the next day I was cited by the local police for 2nd degree criminal tresspass and disturbing the peace. 3 1/2 weeks later the local county attorney informed mine that he was not going to file the charges. He thought the whole thing was silly. I learned first hand that the police have no clue what is going on in aviation and do no even know the laws of this state. They want to treat airports as civil venues and are quick to jump on a power trip there. I understand how the glider pilot must have felt, but at least I did not get thrown in jail. I couldn't sleep for a month.

Posted by: Michael Nielsen | January 22, 2013 7:08 PM    Report this comment

Peter, you are very correct. In 2008, the TSA published a NPRM called "The Large Aircraft Security Program"; most people stopped reading at "large" because they didn't fly "large" aircraft. The document was scary. After 7000 to 10000 responses (depending on who you listen to) not ONE of them positive, they decided to rethink, but it's still out there. Along with Operation Playbook, the classified list of airports that require a SIDA badge to leave and return to your aircraft (read: private property), etc. See www.stoplasp.com for more. This must be stopped NOW, and to sign away your rights so you don't end up in court was ludicrous, I'd have chipped in for the defense fund, lots. The Constitution is still in effect, although how longs is a mystery. But in the mean time, the comment about shooting him down should scare the h*ll out of all of us.

Posted by: John Hyle | January 22, 2013 7:13 PM    Report this comment

This incident is simply more evidence of our headlong decent into the European model of the nanny state. Like law abiding gun owners, the public is afraid of us because of politicians and the media. They do not fathom most of us are America loving patriots. The longer we are quiet the worse it will be... I am older and see the America I loved slipping..slipping away...

Gerald

Posted by: G Cochran | January 22, 2013 7:39 PM    Report this comment

This incident highlights a number of issues. 1. The near total ignorance of the general public and most officials of ANY form of aviation. 2. The absolute total ignorance of the general public and most officials of nuclear energy. 3. The over-reaction to ANY perceived threat in the post 9/11 age. After all, nobody wants to explain to a Senate committee why they missed the threat - never mind that the Senate committee is made up of good examples of items 1 and 2 above. 4. The low skill levels prevalent in many smaller law enforcement agencies. Many rural sheriffs have NO law enforcement experience prior to being elected. Their deputies are paid at or near minimum wage rates. 5. Too many flying organizations - including soaring clubs - isolate themselves from the world. They avoid talking to interested persons - even if those interested persons might be interested in getting involved. These factors all play into an ever-increasing catalog of similar events. We have to reach out to the public and to officials to educate them. Yes, it may bite into our flying time, but it might also bring desperately-needed new blood into aviation and reduce the frequency of these events.

Posted by: M Osborne | January 22, 2013 7:53 PM    Report this comment

One lesson to be learned is to never agree that you will not seek future legal action to get charges dropped. The only way that federal, state, or local bureaucracies learn is though expensive and painful legal proceedings. A by product of that result is that other agencies learn from it as well and a future incident may be averted.

Posted by: Brett Faulkner | January 22, 2013 7:53 PM    Report this comment

This incident may be a blessing in disguise. It could be an opportunity for outreach to the public, the nuke plant officials and local law enforcement personnel. How about having an event to introduce them to glider flying, give some rides, etc. Serve some hamburgers while you're at it. It's much better to educate than take a confrontational posture.

Posted by: Roger Newcomb | January 22, 2013 10:29 PM    Report this comment

I assume you've all seen the You Tube video of the 30,000 pound F4 Phantom rocket-sledded into a simulated nuclear containment vessel at 600 knots? Not only was there no breach, there were less than two inches of concrete lost. An 800 pound glider a threat to a nuclear facility? Utter nonsense! See dub dub dub dot youtube.com/watch?v=zPe-bKIid8w

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | January 22, 2013 10:45 PM    Report this comment

I agree with the sentiment that the media exposure may be a good thing. Also, the idea to go to a towered field might be a good idea, even better if you could call your lawyer with a satphone and have them waiting for you!

Posted by: Josh Johnson | January 23, 2013 6:03 AM    Report this comment

I find it hard to understand the actions of the sheriff's department. Do they not have an aviation department? Wasn't that person called? LEO likes to tell the world that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Well what's their excuse? Rules for dealing with LEO. Don't discuss anything. Ask if you are under arrest and the charges. If you are informed you are not under arrest, ask to leave immediately. Call your attorney. If you don't have one get one, at least a business card and carry it with you. Don't talk to the cops. PERIOD. This comes from an attorney friend.

Posted by: Jeff Grigg | January 23, 2013 9:06 AM    Report this comment

Russ: I agree with you that the threat to aviation freedom was minimal, but I couldn't disagree more that the threat to civil freedom was jeopardized.

Granted, the cops absolutely should have responded to a call about nuclear security and investigated same. Granted that they didn't have a good understanding of aviation that confused the issue. BUT, one article I read mentioned that a neighboring law enforcement agency's helicopter team responded to the airport and was there while the pilot was being questioned. THEY certainly knew about aviation and were a resouce to the local agency. The article implied that they left because they didn't want any part of what they were seeing.

But most important was that the pilot was actually arrested on a trumped up charge and held in jail overnight, apparently also limiting his rights to call someone to let them know of his whereabouts. If the FBI and DHS thought he was enough of a threat to hold overnight then wouldn't he be worth getting right over to talk to then, rather than taking his freedom overnight.

My point is that law enforcement must respond to potential threats and sometimes the nature of the threat is a little unclear and confusing, BUT they have an obligation to clear it up correctly as soon as possible, and we have an absolute right against unreasonable search, seizure, and imprisonment!

Posted by: Bruce Taylor | January 23, 2013 9:27 AM    Report this comment

I understand and share the outrage over the law enforcement actions. However idiotic their reactions were, do at least consider their perspective:

1. They received a call from the nuclear plant that a suspicious aircraft was circling overhead. I think it is unlikely that they were told this was a glider. 2. They need to react -fast. They go to the airport, don't really know how to contact the aircraft, so they throw their weight around to get someone who knows how to do it. 3. Once they contact the aircraft and the pilot responds, they need to sort this thing out *RIGHT NOW*. They still don't know the situation or threat. 4. They chase the aircraft down the runway because the suspect may flee. Sure, it's a glider but right now they NEED TO TALK TO THIS GUY. 5. There's no way they're just going to let him go, they take him back to the station to sort it all out. 6. They sort it all out and it's obvious they overreacted. There's a reason that law enforcement does not have the power to prosecute. They didn't keep him over 24 hours without a reason and his Constitutional rights prevailed. Yep, we should shine a spotlight on this behavior, but I'm asking myself what I would do if I was the cop on that call. Maybe I wouldn't be quite as authoritarian with the guy but I'm not a cop. I think the LEO behavior wasn't all that unexpected. Regrettable, while it clearly bears correcting, I can see how it might unfold.

Posted by: Tom Berry | January 23, 2013 9:32 AM    Report this comment

I understand the LEO's request for the pilot to land, however out of their authority it may be as they must deal with "perceived threats" as they would real threats. However, and I am surprised that no body else has picked up on this, the Sheriff departments own helicopter crew came to the airport and told them: “They pulled out a chart and they said, ‘Look here, … nothing in this chart says you cannot fly over the nuclear plant,’” she said. “’Nothing.’”" Even if they wanted to question pilot on the field after he landed and assess the situation, most of their basis for arrest went out the window when right then.

Posted by: Evan Catarelli | January 23, 2013 9:36 AM    Report this comment

I believe this entire incident could have been avoided if the police had used common sense. Law enforcement had this years ago, but now apparently are trained to react according to a recipe without making any exceptions. Such tactics resemble military operations and have no place in a free society. They only serve to heighten tensions with possible understandable negative response from those who are getting their attention.

Posted by: Michael Nielsen | January 23, 2013 9:50 AM    Report this comment

Still an awesome and tricky marketing and branding video for AOPA. Do you really think waving the legal services plan card will change a federal agents mind and they'll respectfully bow out, instead of putting you in the brink? Ha! Do you really think they would have released him, had he not agreed to the "no lawsuits" farce? What if a school principal calls the cops for an airplane circling over their school, suspecting an pending act of terrorism? I remember well when fighter jets launched in Germany, intercepting and threatening to shoot down a stolen Motorglider (flown by a confused soul) getting to close to Frankfurts financial high rises. Question: Why/ How was this case so well concealed until now?

Posted by: Jason Baker | January 23, 2013 10:14 AM    Report this comment

Has a cop ever said to you??::

Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law;

Whats good for the goose is good for the Gander!

Posted by: Tom Nimsic | January 23, 2013 10:56 AM    Report this comment

The pilot had been out of jail for a few weeks before he agreed not to sue. He should not have made such an agreement as he had an excellent case. I would have sued the rascals.

Posted by: Michael Nielsen | January 23, 2013 11:35 AM    Report this comment

Many things are legal in society but stupid to do, but my personal guide is rarely the law, I prefer common sense. I learned to fly and still fly, along with hundreds of pilots from Luke AFB, 6 GA airports, 2 gliderports, and a very active jump school a mere 3 miles from Palo Verde nuke plant. It's a very active airspace. But no one flies over the nuke plant in any type aircraft if they can help it. Ask anyone. It's just common sense to us. I learned to keep clear of it when training -pre-9/11- and still watch everyone avoid it every day.

We all restrict certain aspects of our freedoms willingly every day to accomodate for fear, misunderstanding and ignorance, just give it some thought. The police overracted and there should be consequences, but all this hand-wringing over the Constitution, tinfoil hats and victimhood is unnecessary and misinformed. How is that any different from the overreaction of the police?

Larry Bird used to say he loved it when fans would boo and hiss toward him. Energy is energy he would say. He would take it in and turn it into increased motivation to play better, and I'd say it worked.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 23, 2013 12:36 PM    Report this comment

Well, we all got to vent on this one.

Unfortunately, the post-911 hysteria so encouraged in furtherance of their agendas by both the media and those in government has generated a cowboy mentality within law enforcement that has elements of the old “shoot ‘em all down and sort ‘em out on the ground” mindset. Not sure what can be done at our level beyond generating as much public blowback as possible.

Posted by: John Wilson | January 23, 2013 12:51 PM    Report this comment

I flat-out disagree with Russ Niles' article that this incident is "No Threat to the Freedom to Fly". Did the pilot lose his freedom to fly back to his home base? Absolutely. Did the pilot lose his personal freedom by being confined to a jail cell? Absolutely. So how is this NOT a threat to our freedom to fly? Or freedom in general?

I would be fired on the spot for such incompetence. And I find it troubling that an aviation writer (who should know better) agrees with the abuse of pilots or Americans in general for that matter!

Posted by: A Richie | January 23, 2013 1:17 PM    Report this comment

Part 2 - Correction: Russ, I don't think you agree with the abuse of pilots, but when you offer up a story that seems to accomodate the views of an agency that has clearly abused a pilot and claim that it's really no big deal to the rest of us, it comes across as sympathizing with the abusers. At least that was the way I perceived your column. I apologize for letting my typing get ahead of my thinking.

Posted by: A Richie | January 23, 2013 1:29 PM    Report this comment

I agree with A. Richie. Threats to freedom start small. If they are tolerated, then these treats expand. I believe there should have been some consequences to the law enforcement people who acted illegally. If any of us act illegally, we have to suffer the consequences. I learned years ago that the police want use to follow the law, but they don't want to have to.

Posted by: Michael Nielsen | January 23, 2013 1:38 PM    Report this comment

Sure. Shoot the messenger. The $5.00 Question is: Will we, as a community (formerly a family) of aviation people, be able to unite against government and law enforcement transgressions? Or will we instead select to argue until the cows come from the fields and do what we have done for the last 40 years? NOTHING.

Posted by: Jason Baker | January 23, 2013 3:06 PM    Report this comment

I love these articles as a "heads up"; a chance to think thorough in case it happens to us. Now I know to completely ignore extraneous personnel and instead follow FAA procedures while airborne. There is obviously no gain in playing along with rogue ground based officers while in the air. If nothing is on 121.5, proceed as filed.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 23, 2013 6:52 PM    Report this comment

I agree with the premise that opinions are like...well let's say...noses. Everybody has one. So I never post comments. But this time I can't resist. Sometimes you are put in a position you did not request, but must not avoid. The only way to stop a bully, is to bloody him. And let him know that, if the bullying continues, so will the bloodying. Shame on the pilot for agreeing not to pursue the county.

Posted by: Tom Costanza | January 24, 2013 4:25 AM    Report this comment

I am not a lawyer, but from my understanding of the law, it doesn't matter what kind of agreement the pilot may have made. He should still be able to sue the agency, possibly even in federal court. Any record of that so-called "agreement" will just further his case.

Posted by: Bob Martin | January 24, 2013 5:47 AM    Report this comment

A few years ago, after an encounter with a "security" official at a company for which I worked, I came up with the observation that nearly any kind of insanity can be justified under the mantle of "safety or security." Couple this mentality with an undereducated moron with a "badge" who probably comes from the shallow end of the gene pool and you have the customary violation of anything resembling "civil or constitutional" rights.

Posted by: Billy Laatsch | January 24, 2013 9:34 AM    Report this comment

It's unfortunate no suit was filed. It seems local governments only ever learn from seven figure mistakes. Had headlines in law enforcement magazines read "Sherriff loses job after deputies arrest pilot", this sort of thing might have become less common.

Posted by: Eric Warren | January 24, 2013 11:29 AM    Report this comment

Maybe they were filming a sequel to "Smokey and the Bandit" or the "Dukes of Hazard" Ya think? As I have said before, government agencies, military complexes, and police/sheriffs departments need to be kept on a very short leash. They are all watching way too much television. When it is a TV show, there is a certain amount of comedy to it, but when it starts to match reality there is a great danger to your constitutional rights. Think about it, crime is not a problem in this country, it's an INDUSTRY!!

Posted by: Al Dyer | January 25, 2013 2:30 PM    Report this comment

Just read the article about this in the latest AOPA magazine. AOPA needs to take a page from the NRA's experience and start playing hardball with TSA, DHS, and any other government agency that encourages the local law enforcement to do things like this. If they don't, eventually we will lose any right to fly at all. I strongly disagree with Mr. Niles on this subject. This incident is just part of the slippery slope started when using the excuse of 9/11, DCA was put off limits to GA flights.

Posted by: matthew wagner | January 26, 2013 8:02 PM    Report this comment

The original premise which Russ put forth is that "this is not a threat to our freedom to fly". I disagree. My earlier post was NOT just about the threat to the 2nd amendment. My point is, that; by itself, this incident may not be a threat, but it IS a symptom of a larger (very real) problem. This nation is now apparently about evenly divided between those who think the government exists to protect them ,and will surrender any and all rights (and money) in exchange for security (and believe in the illusion that government can actually provide it). The other half, believe in some degree of self sufficiency, responsibility, liberty, and less government in general. The divide between these factions is growing as each side becomes more entrenched in their views (mostly due to the media and "infotainment"). The division is a malignancy growing on us all. If this situation is not corrected, guns and self defense are only the first activities which will be deemed too dangerous for mere citizens. Given the risks and level of misunderstanding, General Aviation will undoubtedly be the second. Others will soon follow. (Continued)

Posted by: kim peck | January 26, 2013 11:34 PM    Report this comment

Continued: The actions of County law enforcement in the deep South, has often been less than sterling, and movies are made of such (LEOs in my family were angry, but not surprised). It is the reaction to it (or lack of), and the involvement of Federal agencies which are most disturbing. Outrage over this event should focus the constitutional issues. The authority of the agencies involved should be challenged. Most of all, we need better PR, and not directed to the aviation community, but to the mainstream press (the AOPA is almost as infective as the NRA at that). With the present administration in power, my friends on the left, are marching us steadily towards the precipice. The very nature of the "less government" folks, is to not be political (don't rock the boat). Unfortunately, this means some tend to ignore or downplay the danger until it threatens THEIR particular way of life (Several examples commented above). We are approaching a tipping point, after which matters will accelerate. When the problems become too obvious to ignore, it will be too late (so you should pay attention now). History gives too many examples. If you think this event isn't a threat, you might have some sand in your ears (wonder how an ostrich can breathe like that). My "tinfoil hat" may be showing, but I don't feel helpless, I feel alarmed. So should you.

KP

Posted by: kim peck | January 26, 2013 11:35 PM    Report this comment

With the present administration in power, my friends on the left, are marching us steadily towards the precipice."

Like cattle to the slaughter, eh? Victims of lesser minded citizens? To realize your guns, patriotism, right-thinking, god-on-our-side-knowingness aren't working to sway these obtuse, simple-minded 'others' must be immensly frustrating. What's left to do?

Fearmonger.

Instead of using individual, creative energies to work in the nuanced, difficult areas of social principles and citizenship - fearmonger that Doomsday is near and we are powerless victims of 'them' - not balanced, strong-minded and understanding individuals who never give up.

It's everyone's choice, but in aviation, at this difficult time in our flight, those who don't have the creative imagination and individual moxie to see and understand the bigger picture but resort to victimhood and helplessness might not be offering solutions in our best interest. The ability to discriminate, as I feel Russ and others did here, will always prove more accurate and beneficial in analysis and decisionmaking than groupthink of a dreadful fate ever will.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 27, 2013 3:15 PM    Report this comment

"The ability to discriminate, as I feel Russ and others did here, will always prove more accurate and beneficial in analysis and decisionmaking than groupthink of a dreadful fate ever will."

That is exactly the attitude several federal law enforcement agencies at their DC offices thought when reports of strange flight training requests were reported by various flight training schools prior to 9/11. We all know the result, something that GA is still paying for with all the TFRs and other stupid restrictions. This incident is just another example of law enforcement local or otherwise gone amok that if not stopped will end GA flying as we know it.

Posted by: matthew wagner | January 27, 2013 6:06 PM    Report this comment

This incident is just another example of law enforcement local or otherwise gone amok that if not stopped will end GA flying as we know it."

This is the 'groupthink of a dreadful fate' I was talking about, but you really didn't have to offer an example. But to convolute the ability or inability of discrimination and apply it to 9/11 really shows how deep the fear and trembling is for some, evidently. Absolutely amazing. If that's the case, gather them guns and get them bunkers built, life is very short my friend.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 27, 2013 8:10 PM    Report this comment

Obviously, Mr Miller has a very limited experience in GA flying throughout the country. There are many places around the country that are openly hostile to any aviation activity. Many mountain airports in Colorado, the New York metro area, the LA basin along with the rest of California(leaded avgas lawsuit). All of these areas have time of day operating restrictions along with other restictions. Look at what happened to the area around the Grand Canyon. Environmentalists would like to restrict all national parks this way. They have tried by trying to pass backdoor laws going around the FAA's authority. The mountain airports around Colorado have local law enforcement agencies that are quite aggressive in enforcing local restrictions on aviation. The South Carolina glider incident is just the latest example. As far as 9/11 is concerned, that was the justification used for the glider incident to begin with.

Posted by: matthew wagner | January 28, 2013 12:29 PM    Report this comment

Dosn't look like other pilots commenting in here, either saw, or understood my recommendations. Again, the FIRST thing is be "situationally aware". DONT LET STRANGE PEOPLE GET PHYSICAL CONTROL OVER YOU.FAA / ATC has established proceedures for comm. You get a call on your radio from ANYONE that you even REMOTELY suspect is not "legit", tell them to meet you on 121.5 and 1) try and get them to tell you WHO they are and WHERE they are. 2) DECLARE AN EMERGENCY. That gives YOU legal authority to decide what to do next - typically, announce your position and altitude and that you are going to the nearest operating control tower. There are "news stringers" all over the place, always listening to ATC frequencies. This INSURES a news spotlight on you when you land, which reduces the chance of crazy behavior, if it was legit law enforcement in the first place. LEGIT FAA knows how to reach FEDERAL law enforcement. They will deal with "county mounties". Typically HARSHLY

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 28, 2013 2:01 PM    Report this comment

Have mercy on the pedestrian poster pilot, Peter, please!? Most of us prefer to stay on topic on these threads as much as possible, and in this case - was the incident a threat or not to the future and viablity of aviation?

I think most folks can stretch their minds to reasonable limits to comprehend your off-topic remedies and solutions for other, future scenarios if they would ever find themselves in one. Why, even my knuckle-draggin' "county mounty" nephew nodded and grunted when I showed him your posts. So take heart, but maybe try and stay closer to the topic if you prefer folks to critique your work in the future. Just sayin'.

And as far as my experience in flying our great country from sea to shining sea, I can only claim, I think, 37 states over about 23 years. Have to say, however, that other than weather and forgetting my port-o-john on a few occasions, never had a bad flight or had a problem with regs, dregs, or restrictions in any way. I just bounce, hop or jump over anything that wants to get in my way. Always a joy and priviledge to be airborne under my own power with such freedom. So rare and sublime.

But yes, as a licensed therapist for most of my life, I can completely understand this world is very difficult, dark and frustrating for many. Some never do see the freedom that comes from emotional detachment to so-called 'problems'- real or imagined. It's just the way it is. But thanks for bringing up my flying experiences. Enjoyed the trip.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 28, 2013 5:48 PM    Report this comment

Mr Miller: I hope you read back ATC clearances with more accuracy than you read my posts. Not clear how you could arrive at a conclusion that my several posts on this matter are not DIRECTLY and SOLEY related to our future in aviation.

I do not think it possible - certainly dont think it wise, to under-estimate the threat these incidents have to the future of avation. YOUR future and MINE. We wont have much of a future if some idiot 'local' drunk with power and frustrated over the "hand" life dealt him, SHOOTS at us.

THAT is why it is so essential that all flight crew know EXACTLY how to respond lawfully and responsibly, so that the next time (and there will be a next) word gets out thru the law enforcement community to 1) KNOW what in hell they are doing with regard to us, and if not, FIND OUT before biting us. Given the competitive spirit between all these law enforcement agencies at so many levels, I am satisfied that IF we REMAIN IN CONTROL of the situation, and RUN that situation according to the F.A.R.'s, it is only a matter of time before the word gets in a dramatic fashion, not to "mess" with us.

Posted by: Peter Hartmann | January 28, 2013 9:23 PM    Report this comment

Mr Miller: I hope you read back ATC clearances with more accuracy than you read my posts."

I always do my best, sir.

You be careful out there, Mr. Hartman. Life is full of randominity and human imperfection to keep us awake and revealing our progress. But it's also the greatest adventure on earth.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 29, 2013 1:54 AM    Report this comment

Any doubters on this subject should check out a letter to the editor from Mr. Dennis B. Boykin IV. Pretty much sums up why this glider incident should not be ignored. Maybe the moderator could post it here also.

Posted by: matthew wagner | January 29, 2013 3:39 PM    Report this comment

Ok, I've got the afternoon off, I'll go one more time. First off, apologies for me misspelling Mr. Hartmann's name, I just now noticed it.

Here's something many of us may not fully understand yet, for various reasons. Nothing can affect you, ever, unless you allow it to. Acceptance is the tractor beam of self-identification. But complicity, hatred, love, aversion, fear, arrogance and a host of other reactions can have as equal affect as acceptance does to give something in your life power over you without your consent.

Re-read the suggested letter-to-the-editor with that in mind and see for yourself how sadly inept the author willingly describes himself to be. Years of fighting the 'ignorance and stupidity' with nothing offered to show for it. Blaming others that they overract and just don't understand things like he does. Not having a powerful, silencing reply to a few idiots who ask silly questions about aircraft ownership, and on and on it goes. Quite the sad example- no wonder fear and trembling has taken hold. It's enough to make a grown man cry.

Then go fly and notice how many blessings you have earned and been given in your life and try and tell others of the joy of flight if you are given the opportunity. Enough of the pathetic victimhood, please.

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 29, 2013 6:47 PM    Report this comment

It would be remiss of me to overlook the supreme irony of this thread and its accompanying conspiracy theories, doomsday paranoia and similar deluded thinking. All the while so many were posting their warnings and fears of a blundering cop, powerful, faceless government groups hell-bent on destroying aviation and the like, an actual idiot, a civilian with a gun, not law enforcement, shot a pilot in his aircraft on New Years in legal airspace and nearly killed him over Jacksonville.

And not one word about it here. A pilot actually gets shot, but because it apparently didn't fulfill the conspiracy theory of Them against Us, it isn't even mentioned. Also, where I live there are several incidents a month of laser flashing toward aircraft, one just 3 days ago, and no one seems bothered by that either. Where's the rage and righteous anger and stuck cap keys for actual reality?

Just another 'fun fact' for anyone interested. :-)

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 30, 2013 1:25 PM    Report this comment

You are right that those incidents should be talked about and denounced. There is a big difference though comparing those incidents with this one. Those incidents were criminal acts by criminals. This incident involved criminal acts by law enforcement officers who would not admit they screwed up and apologize. They locked a law abiding citizen up for a day and trumped up a charge. This is something I would expect in a 3rd world country, not here. Everyone makes mistakes including me. When I do I have to own up to it and admit it and say I am sorry. This discussion is about behavior of law enforcement officers who are supposed to know and enforce the law...not acts of criminals. I have been a victim of their unscrupulous behavior myself at the airport and professional pilots have told me of other incidents at my home airport. So this should be a concern to all of us across the nation.

Posted by: Michael Nielsen | January 30, 2013 2:08 PM    Report this comment

Where I work in a VA office there are many Vets and cops and security people coming and going, and I have made some wonderful friends with many of them. Most are delightful to be around and would give the shirt off their back for anyone. The Vets never complain about anything, ever, they are honored to serve and want nothing more than to drag their broken bodies back into service to fight for their fellow citizens again.

They are so respectful and in awe that I am a pilot - but also very aware they probably will not have the ability or means to ever become one themselves. Many of the Vets will become 'local yokel' cops and security officers when they finally finish their duties. Many of them are 'local yokel' cops now - maybe one was even involved in this incident. In decades of working with them and meeting their families, watching them go through some of the most crushing of life's hardships, they usually still find the love to ask me if I went flying last weekend.

They will still help or rescue you at 3am or fight on foreign soil for you even as you criticize them or whine on and on about their lack and your abundance. One group has the secret to life, the other is still looking.HÈ

Posted by: Dave Miller | January 30, 2013 9:50 PM    Report this comment

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