Pro Pilot Takes Stand Against TSA Body Scan


Michael Roberts says he’s an ExpressJet Airlines pilot who has worked out of Memphis for more than four years and now fears that may change after, on Oct. 15, he refused to subject himself to a full body scan by TSA workers. Roberts likens the scan, a technology that reveals a graphic depiction of a person’s body beneath their clothing, to “virtual strip searching.” His refusal was met with the alternative of being frisked, an offer that Roberts also declined. Screeners and Roberts then discussed their positions on the matter and the event became a stalemate. At that point Roberts says he attempted to leave and was detained for questioning. In the end, Roberts was denied access to the facility. He says the TSA contacted his employer. And he is now unsure of the future of his position at ExpressJet. Roberts’ account has become a topic of debate in online pilot forums. Whatever your opinion, Roberts actions were well-considered by him in advance and were apparently not intended as a conclusive act but rather to initiate further action.

Roberts includes his e-mail address at the end of his account of events (PDF). It is Roberts also welcomes interested parties to contact him. (AVweb was unable to reach Roberts prior to deadline.) His story appears on ExpressJet Forums under the heading “well, today was the day.” It apparently evolved over time from earlier statements expressing his concern with security measures. For Roberts’ part, “This is not a left or right, red or blue state issue. The very bedrock of our way of life in this country is under attack from within. Please don’t let it be taken from us without a fight.” He concludes his account with the words, “Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium.” That translates to, “I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.”