Recently I have done a lot of flying. Not week in week out travel, but three or four times a year travel. That is the most I have done since the creation of a little agency known as the TSA (Transportation Security Agency). My take on the creation of the TSA was this – the private security firms that airlines contracted, did not do enough to prevent 9/11. Somehow, another government bureaucracy was going to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.
It must have worked, because we have not seen a single airliner fly into a skyscraper since.
With so much success under their belt, now their plan is to step up security screenings. Of course they are waiting until we are in the midst of the busiest time of the year for flying…summer.
Longer lines they promise. More thorough checks, they say. Everything bigger than a cell phone must go into a separate bin.
How many Kindles has the TSA discovered to be laced with explosives? When was the last time a pilot was taken out by an iPad?
The security checks that the private, underpaid security personal were doing before 9/11 was plenty sufficient. You and I know that none of the changes implemented by the TSA has done anything more than piss travelers off and create another monstrous bureaucracy. A bureaucracy filled with people who are just working towards their government pension.
How many reports have there been about the TSA missing target items? Next time you fly, watch the agents. Do every one of them look like they would really notice something suspicious? Most of them?
As a pilot, my biggest bitch about flying before 9/11 was spending hours jammed into an aluminum cigar tube with a hundred other people filling the air with their ailments and bodily functions. Now, it’s the security check points and the lines that go along with them. It is almost a relief to have someone plop themselves down beside me so I can spend the next four hours listening to them snore. Among other things.
When I was a kid, anyone and everyone could walk down to the boarding gate with a departing loved one. All you had to do was pass through a security check point, which up until 9/11 kept us safe. My last opportunity to do so was about 1984 when my stepdad flew off to go live in Wyoming.
Sitting there at the boarding gate was a gentlemen who suffered from an obvious learning disability (politically correct term). In his hand was a radio that he was using to listen in on the tower. The concourse and gate he chose afforded him a great view of the two main runways MSP offers. This gentleman was probably coming as close to fulfilling a dream that his genetic short change would allow. He would never pass a flight physical to gain his pilot’s license.
However, because he could watch planes taking off and landing, while listening to the chatter between the pilots and the tower, he could pretend what it would be like. That man no longer has that option. If it is still something he wanted to do, he would have to take up station in a little penned in area alongside one of the runways. The Metropolitan Airports Commission was kind enough to set aside that cage.
By the way, I witnessed one of my favorite sights that night. There was a gentle snowfall that evening, just enough to dust the runways without making them hazardous. While waiting for my stepdad to board, a fully loaded 747 launched itself down the runway. As it gained speed, and the wings lift, white vortices started to roll off the wingtips. Then, as it reached rotational speed, those vortices grew, and a small snow storm clawed at the airplane as it climbed into the overcast.
We were free; the pursuit of happiness.
Not long after that, airports closed us out of the concourses if we didn’t have a ticket. Another response to some terrorist act overseas.
What a nice story, right? What am I getting at?
This…we keep inventing ways to strip our liberties in the name of safe air travel. No longer can we hang out at on the concourse and be with our friends and family until they board. Instead, we are trapped on these concourse for hours in the name of getting to the airport early to get through the lines.
Notice how the concourses are more like malls now. Talk about forced consumerism.
The TSA, and the private security it supplanted never stopped anything but the most obvious threats. The bad guys are not going to go walking onto a plane with dynamite strapped to their chest carrying a detonator in their hands.
They did not do so before 9/11, and they will not now. No, instead they are going to find something the TSA is not looking for, and walk right through the checkpoint. They will do this while my wife is explaining why she did not put her $12.00 can of spray on sunscreen in her checked bag. Or while I am getting reprimanded for forgetting to take my highly explosive tube of chap stick out of my front pocket.
Or, they will recruit pilots who have other issues going on their lives, and let them do their dirty work for them. How many aircraft have we lost since 9/11, some with no clear explanation as to why. Some, like a certain German pilot, the explanation was obvious.
We are only as safe as the current situation allows. No government agency can guarantee your safety. No stringent background checks will protect your children from gun violence. Your best protection from terrorism and other violent acts is the luck of the draw.
Personally, I will take my chances with lady luck, and ask that you and other American’s quit coughing up my liberties in the name of safety and security.