...As Latest GA Security Gaffe Reverberates
"If there had even been a tall chain link fence with barbed wire on top of it, I would have just turned around and went on home," Louis Paul Kadlecek told the Houston Chronicle last week. Kadlecek is the 21-year-old who police say stole a Cessna 172 on a drunken whim on Feb. 29 and crashed it into power lines. "You would think they would have already thought of that after 9/11," Kadlecek added. Well, they did think of it, but while construction crews were busy building new fences at Brazoria County Airport, near Houston, the gates were left unlocked. And the public is clearly not ready to believe that small airplanes are not a threat -- The Washington Post reported with alarm on Tuesday that some small airports with scheduled passenger service have no metal detectors, security checks or passenger screening. For example, the seven Montana airports served by Big Sky Airlines have no metal-detection equipment, no security screening and no checking of luggage for explosives, and the airline's 19-passenger Fairchild Metroliner aircraft do not have cockpit doors, the Post reported. One airline official laughed when asked whether the lack of security at North Las Vegas Airport posed a risk: "We're flying Twin Otters, one of the slowest planes out there. If you hit the Hoover Dam, it would bounce off." The TSA isn't laughing, though, and said it is assessing more than two dozen small airports to see if they need security upgrades, and is ready to implement tighter security at seven of them. "Threat assessment is not a one-time procedure," TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield told the Post. "If something has changed in terms of the volume of traffic, the size of the aircraft, the number of flight operations or routes, that would come under the analysis we would perform. We're constantly evaluating security procedures."