an officer of the federal government'
By Vin Suprynowicz
the Pilot, who I interviewed on Sept. 12, 2001, for the "Sept.
11" chapter of my latest book, had a layover in Vegas
a short time back, so I asked him how things were going with
arming America's commercial airline pilots.
see, the airline executives were against it, and the TSA (Transportation
Security Administration) was against it -- the pilots were
the only ones who wanted it." So, although Congress overwhelmingly
mandated the program, "they've already run into some
problems with it. The original TSA guy didn't want the pilots
to be armed, so he set out to keep this from happening by
making it very distasteful and inconvenient to be armed. So
they've already redesigned the program."
does it work?
do it on the Net. You answer some questions, then you get
sent to another (online) site to take a test, and then you
have to go take a six-day class. You have to go there at your
own expense, on your own time. The airline does not pay to
get you there, and if you miss a flight rotation that's money
out of your pocket."
get around admitting that it could ever, ever be a good thing
to allow mere "civilians" to go armed, the authorities
have mandated that pilots who complete the training will now
be officially deputized. "You get a badge and everything;
you're a `federal flight deck officer.' "
the six-day course held?
moving the location of the course facility again; it's somewhere
out West that's not very convenient."
southwest regional spokesgal Suzanne Luber says the first
"prototype" class started with 48 pilots and ended
up deputizing 44 "flight deck officers" at the federal
Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., in April.
After a second small class graduates this summer, the training
program will move next fall to Artesia, N.M.
have a budget of $8 million through the end of the fiscal
year, which is September, and the cost of the course per pilot
is $2,100," not including overhead and start-up
costs. "It's 48 hours, so the course is six days."
The pilots don't have to pay for that, but they do attend
on their own time, she confirmed.
get to bustling Artesia, "You fly to either Albuquerque
or El Paso, and then you take a small plane to Roswell, and
then you drive," Ms. Luber says, cheerily.
you have to get re-certified twice a year," Pete
continues. Re-certification can be at any federal law enforcement
shooting range; the pilots won't have to go back to Georgia
or New Mexico twice a year, Ms. Luber says.
are about 60,000 commercial airline pilots in America. How
many are now being trained to fly armed?
took like 45 people," Pete says. Then there's going to
be a second class, but that's already full, too."
out of the more than 3,000 pilots that fly Pete's airline?
How many are now being trained to go armed?
a hijacker's chances of running into an armed pilot would
be ... two-tenths of 1 percent?
bureaucrats who fought the arming of airline pilots are now
placing outrageous roadblocks in the implementation of the
law authorizing pilots to carry guns during flights,"
is the way Phil Brennan reported the story on NewsMax.com
back on Feb. 19, in a story headlined "Federal Bureaucrats
Obstruct Armed-Pilots Law."
requirements proposed by the Transportation Security Administration,
including exhaustive psychological evaluations, are `intrusive'
and `obscene,' charges the Airline Pilots' Security Alliance
W. Price, a spokesman for the pilots group, complains the
TSA wants each pilot seeking to carry a gun to submit to a
wide-ranging background investigation, including interviews
with neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers, an interview
with a TSA psychiatrist, a second government psychological
exam and a medical evaluation.
of those requirements are redundant because the Federal Aviation
Administration already conducts physical and psychological
exams of pilots every six months, Price told Newsmax.com.
Pete going to apply? "I'm not going to do it."
not going to go into the psychological testing and being told
whether I'm psychologically fit to carry a weapon. I already
carry a gun, and I've already been judged fit to fly a plane,
where I have responsibility for the lives of 200 passengers.
So I'm not going to do that. And I also don't want to be a
federal deputy. They actually deputize you and give you a
badge and everything -- you're an officer of the federal government,
and I just don't feel I can do that."
just say Pete is not exactly a fan of our increasingly intrusive
most pilots go armed up through the early 1960s, without all
this federal folderol, I asked him -- in fact, wasn't it required
to carry a sidearm if you were flying the U.S. mails; didn't
Lucky Lindbergh always wear a sidearm when he carried the
Heck, most of the pilots were armed right up into the '70s.
All this screening stuff is the fault of our own Airline Pilots
Association, if you can believe it. Back when we started to
have all those hijackings to Cuba, the pilots association
demanded they do something, so we gave up our guns and in
return we got the start of this wonderful screening system
we've got now."
is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and
author of the books "Send in the Waco Killers"
and "The Ballad of Carl Drega." His Web
site is www.privacyalert.us.
Vegas Review article
For the latest
information on the FFDO program: Airline
Pilots Security Alliance
"FFDOs will be issued credentials to identify themselves
to law enforcement and security personnel but will
not be issued metal badges." Transportation