Tag Archives: tsa

ALTERNATIVES TO COMMERCIAL AIR TRAVEL

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The latest bad news from the airport is that the TSA folks have now been caught doing, what we all know they have been doing for some time, and that of course, is stealing computers, watches, wallets etc., from the passengers. I have frequently challenged the TSA reps regarding the security of my very important personal items and was invariably was rudely told “not to worry about it.” It is very clear that the opportunity for theft in the chaos at the checkpoint is extremely high, yet there are no firm procedures to prevent this theft.

The first and best solution to this problem, if you don’t already own your own airplane, is the wide-open world of on-demand jet charter. Drive your vehicle directly to the airport, out onto the tarmac, watch the ramp personnel load your bags in the aircraft baggage compartment, enter the aircraft, and be airborne 10 minutes later, while sipping some Dom Perignom champagne and nibbling on lobster tail. There is of course a small caveat that comes with being a jet- setter: It will be many thousands of dollars to go on a relatively short flight. If you fill the airplane up with traveling passengers the cost is still more than a first-class ticket, but in most instances the convenience will justify it.

If you can’t afford the jet, it is possible to charter a smaller propeller driven airplane at perhaps less than half the tariff of the jet. Needless to say there are downsides: It will likely be noisier and you’ll fly lower and slower which usually results in more turbulence; you will be flying with less experienced pilots, thus diminishing the safety factor. The aircraft maintenance is likely to be poorer than airline standards and the pilots are more likely to be fatigued. The rate of fatal accidents in on-demand small airplane charter is extremely high, but, it is infinitely safer than battling the 18-wheel “semis” on the interstate.

Now we will take this transportation equation to a much higher level. There are numerous aviation entrepreneurial people who are designing automobiles that fly, or if you prefer, airplanes that can be driven down the road. Furthermore, the ICON amphibious air machine is getting very close to production (http://www.iconaircraft.com/). This fun little bird allows you to tie it up at your dock, take off down the lake, and land on nearly any hard surface runway, other than the major hub airports, as well as a lake. Of equal importance is the fact that it can burn standard auto gas (nearly half the price of avgas) at an extraordinarily low rate of 4 gallons an hour while you cross the terra firma at 110 miles an hour.

At this year’s EAA Air Adventure extravaganza at Oshkosh, Wisconsin the Terrrafugia was a highlight. It was not just a static display, it actually flew. This aptly named transportation device appears to be the real deal. This roadable airplane is gaining some traction (http://www.terrafugia.com/) The Switchblade (http://goo.gl/HNh6cJ0) is another air/highway machine-in-the-making that has some viability. Two years ago I flew the above-mentioned ICON simulator at the Oshkosh Air Show and became infatuated with the ICON; an amphibious flying critter, it is getting close to production. If you live on the water it is the ultimate “boy-toy.” The Flintstones/Jetson family’s flying car is now out of the realm of fantasy. One can also consider getting from A to B with their jetpack. Hooray for creative, entrepreneurial engineers—and their financiers. Roadable airplanes will soon be as ubiquitous as drones.

This blog is prepared by Allen Morris, aka Ace Abbott, a retired commercial pilot, and aviation author; The Rogue Aviator (www.therogueaviator.com) and Dead Tired (http://www.deadtiredpilots.com/). The “Ace Abbott Aviation Affair” talk show is available at http://webtalkradio.net/

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AVIATION ARMEGEDDON

ARMEGEDDON WILL BE PRECEEDED BY FIRE IN THE SKY!

—Is aviation Armageddon upon us? Recent news reports of bizarre occurrences relating to airline travel indicate that we may be at the tipping point. Here are just a few of these recent aviation anomalies:

—A San Francisco man removed from a U.S. Airways flight and arrested after he allegedly refused to pull up his sagging pants was released from custody after posting bail, and prosecutors are still considering whether to file charges in the case.

Deshon Marman, 20, was arrested  on suspicion of a felony count of battery of a police officer and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and trespassing.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office has not charged Marman, who posted $11,000 bail  and was released from jail.
Marman, was instructed by airline crew members several times to pull up his pants to cover his underwear, both before he boarded and on the plane, according to San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Rodriguez.

Marman allegedly refused to pull up his pants and when he sat in his seat, he pulled them all the way down, Rodriguez said. Marman was escorted off the plane by police and then allegedly resisted officers when they tried to handcuff him.

Eventually the plane’s captain told other passengers on the aircraft to deplane, ordered Marman to leave the plane and then placed him under citizen’s arrest for trespassing after he refused the order, according to Rodriguez. Is it true that the captain of an aircraft can issue a citizen’s arrest for a wardrobe anomaly? Apparently the answer is yes!

Hopefully they won’t mess with the young women with their crevice-hugging attire or halter tops with mammary glands begging for escape. What about the old codgers in an aisle seat with their Bermuda shorts and loosely fitting boxer shorts revealing views of grotesque genitalia? Don’t just arrest these guys. Take them to the gallows.

According to an airline spokesman, “While U.S. Airways does not have a specific dress code, we ask our customers to dress in an appropriate manner to ensure the safety and comfort of all of our passengers.”

—A United Boeing 767-300, en route from Newark, New Jersey to Geneva (Switzerland) was about 45 miles east of Halifax, NS (Canada) when crew discovered a suspicious item, a camera, on an empty seat. Since no one on the flight claimed the camera the flight crew decided to turn around and divert to Boston, MA for a safe landing about 70 minutes later. The passengers disembarked.

A search of the aircraft found no trace of explosives, an examination of the camera found it safe.

This is a reenactment of another commercial airline diversion that involved the cabin crew discovering unidentifiable wires in the lavatory. With the increased use of electronic gadgets that passengers take with them it is not too unusual to find “wires” that someone either forgot or misplaced. A brief over-reaction resulted in extreme disruption to the passenger’s travel plans and an exorbitant cost to the airline. The premise that “we can’t be too cautious,” needs to be tempered with some application of good judgment.

—A United Boeing 757-200,  from Newark, NJ to Shannon (Ireland), was en route over the Atlantic Ocean about one hour prior to estimated arrival in Shannon when the crew notified air traffic control to have police stand by on landing for a male passenger in early 40’s, who had become abusive and threatening and had been restrained by cabin crew. The aircraft continued to Shannon for a safe landing on runway 24 about an hour later. The unruly was arrested by Irish police

The man was travelling within a travel group, but was intoxicated. After he became threatening and abusive, he was finally restrained by cabin crew. The man was taken into arrest, released on bail and has to appear in court. Newark alone is enough to drive one to drink, but seven hours packed into a coach seat is good cause to get really toasted. Every Irishman headed back to the old country should be given a little leeway with booze-induced anti-social behavior as long as he relates a few limericks or at least makes a request like, “Erin, take off your bra.”

—A Jet Blue Airbus en route from JFK, NY to Los Angeles was about 140 miles from Denver, when the crew initiated a descent towards Denver requesting law enforcement meet the aircraft at the gate due to an unruly passenger on board. The aircraft landed safely and Denver police escorted a male passenger off the aircraft.
A passenger reported that the youngish looking male initially appeared quite normal but became more and more restless during the flight until he left his seat and walked the aisle, then returned to his seat and after about 5 minutes appeared as if he wanted to fight. An air marshal swapped seats to sit aside of the unruly, another passenger kept talking to the unruly and seemed to calm him down.

After landing a woman filed a complaint with police stating the unruly had groped her. Why did she not issue the groping complaint earlier? With an armed air marshall sitting next to this unruly passenger, why was a diversion necessary?  The airline confirmed the aircraft diverted because of an unruly passenger.

—A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Las Vegas , was en route about 120 miles southeast of New Orleans when the crew initiated a diversion to New Orleans due to a pair of passengers who engaged in a fist fight on board. The aircraft landed safely on New Orleans about 25 minutes later, police arrested one of the fist fighters.
The airline confirmed the aircraft diverted to New Orleans after two passengers engaged in a fist fight, it was unclear however how the fight erupted. One of the passengers, a male was arrested and charged with interference with flight crew and assault on a passenger.

—A United Airbus A320, en route from San Francisco to Chicago O’Hare, when the crew decided to divert due to an unruly male passenger  on board who turned into a medical emergency after it was determined he had taken substantially more than his normal dose of his medicine. The aircraft landed safely in Denver about 50 minutes after turning around. Police officers escorted the man off the aircraft.

Charges of interference with flight crew and abusive sexual contacts were filed against the unruly passenger who was alleged to have groped a woman and making abuse statements towards other passengers as well as spitting and threatening police officers escorting him off the aircraft.

—The passenger that departed Capetown, SouthAfrica on the British Airways 747 wanted nothing to do with that mob of lunatics in the cabin so he elected to ride in the aircraft’s wheel well. After jumping the airport’s perimeter fence he ran to the 747 that was ready for takeoff and climbed in the wheel well. Apparently he missed that seventh grade science class regarding temperature lapse and the reduced level of oxygen as we go higher.

When the big Boeing arrived at Heathrow in London the corpse of the jet-set hitch-hiker tumbled on to the tarmac. If you elect to avoid TSA and/or the crying kids in the crowded cabin, it is suggested that your wheel-well trip be taken on an aircraft that will fly a short distance at a lower altitude. If you go orthodox and ride in the cabin, an ample supply of valium-type drugs should be available to more easily deal with those that may have either too much or too little of their chosen, “escape the present,” mind-altering materials.

This blog is produced by aviation author, Ace Abbott; The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation (www.therogueaviator.com) and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue-Aviation’s Insidious Killer (www.deadtiredpilots.com)

 

 

 

RECENT AVIATION NEWS-THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

“SULLY” HANGING OUT AT AUTHOR’S CORNER WITH ACE AND COLLEAGUE, PETER BUFFINGTON

THE GOOD

The greatest aviation extravaganza on earth has come to an end but before it concluded, Ace Abbott and Peter Buffington got to rub elbows with the current aviation icon, “Sully” Sullenberger. The photo-op session was followed by a brief chat and Sully revealed that he is even cooler in person than he is on TV. A calm placid demeanor emanates from him and he exudes a quiet confidence that is part of having “the right stuff.” Sully’s ongoing work with the enhancement of aviation safety is very important to the aviation world. When he speaks, people listen, as they did when he stood in front of the Aviation Congressional Sub-committee three years ago and very emphatically stated that increased pilot salaries were necessary to attract the best quality people into the cockpit of commercial airliners.

The EAA AirVenture once again proved to be an exciting venue for anyone remotely interested in aviation. Although the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels were not allowed to perform—local area residential safety considerations—the Blue Angels had one of their pilots and aircraft available for the masses to ogle over. The Air Force had an F-16 on static display that also provided the hordes of aviation aficionados with ear-shattering fly-bys and spectacular aerial demonstrations. The many hangars were filled with aviation paraphernalia and bags of “swag” were being toted by most of the attendees. A nice review of the event is available if you click on the following link: http://airventure.org/live/.

THE BAD AND THE UGLY!

Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of commercial aviation chaos we will take a look at just a few of these bizarre scenarios:

An Alaska Airlines passenger may face charges after police say he launched into an expletive-laced tirade against a fellow flier who declined to turn off her reading light.

The incident happened early Saturday morning on an overnight Alaska Airlines flight from Honolulu to Bellingham, Wash. Washington State Patrol spokesman Keith Leary tells The Bellingham Herald the passenger – a 50-year-old man from Tacoma whom police did not identify – apparently became upset when a woman seated in front of him refused to turn off her overhead reading light.

Police tell the Herald the man then went to talk to the flight attendants to demand that the woman’s reading light be turned off. When the attendants told the man that the woman was entitled to keep the light on, he flew into a rage, Leary tells the Herald.

Leary tells the Herald the man is accused of shouting expletives at both the woman and others on the plane. He also threatened to annoy the woman for the duration of the flight by hitting the back of her seat over and over again, a ccording to
Leary.

Other than the threat of being a nuisance, however, Leary says the man apparently didn’t make any other explicit threats against passengers or the flight. “(B)ut he did drop a few F-bombs,” the Herald adds.

The man, who was traveling with his adult son and daughter, was met at Bellingham International by five sheriff’s deputies, according to the Herald. He was questioned and allowed to continue on to his home in Tacoma

For additional lunacy please read the following account of chaos in the clouds:

A man was kicked off of a Spirit Airlines plane at O’Hare International Airport
in Chicago after getting into an altercation over his wardrobe with a flight attendant.

CBS Chicago reports that the man and a female companion were boarding a flight fromO’Hare to Orlando, Fla., over the weekend when an attendant asked him to pull up his saggy pants.

According to a Spirit Airlines spokeswoman, the man became “verbally abusive” andthreatened physical harm after he was told that his pants were “excessively low”as they were hanging below his buttocks. The airline requires passengers to wear”adequate” clothing in its code.

There is more!

Camera In Air Sickness Bag Causes Airplane Scare

Last night, a United Airlines flight from Newark, headed to Geneva Switzerland, was diverted to Boston’s Logan Airport when a suspicious item was found in a seatback pocket. Fighter jets were summoned to help escort the plane to Logan-but it turned out that the suspicious item, inside an air sickness bag, was a… camera.
So, is this better or worse than a flight being diverted due to a cellphone chargingin a bathroom? Or a game of backgammon?

The camera was found in an unbooked seat, and the flight was diverted “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the TSA. NORAD confirmed that “two F-15 fighterjets were scrambled to intercept the flight at about 9:00 p.m. Eastern, shortly after it departed from Newark,” saying, “The fighters were scrambled, then interceptedand shadowed the aircraft.”

Now that we have taken the meaning of overreact to its highest level, would you care for a nice chicken salad sandwich?

Another sewing needle has turned up in a passenger’s airline meal, this time on
a Monday night Air Canada flight from Victoria, British Columbia, to Toronto.
(The previous italicized anecdotes are excerpts from the Curt Lewis & Associates newsletter).

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator and Dead Tired

 

“WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US” (TSA)

TSA: TERRORISM OR ANTI-DOTE

As the disdain for a trip through the TSA controlled airport security intensifies it appears that progress is being made to reduce the level of intrusion that occurs at these government-mandated check-points. Ironically, this backlash against the onerous activities of the poorly-trained and often un-screened cadre of the all-too-frequently “wannabee cops” is being led by the former TSA Administrator, Mr. Kip Hawley. He has published a whistle-blower-themed book titled: Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the fight for the future of American Security. He is in demand at the news-talk shows and with his impetus; perhaps we can get our government to cease stripping us of our dignity unnecessarily.

He points out the obvious fact that the pilots now often have guns in the cockpits, there may be armed Air Marshalls in the cabin, and the cockpit door is fortified like a CITI bank safe. It is no longer necessary to snatch away personal possessions such as small knives, scissors, or any other pointed object that the TSA agent could deem to be a weapon. He also points out that the 3 ounce rule for liquids is equally inane. The most frequent complaint amongst air travelers, the overzealous pat-down, should be seriously curtailed and a bit of judgment interjected. (See Ace Abbott’s book, The Rogue Aviator, for more information about pat-down scenarios.)

The draconian and often hostile treatment of innocent people who are treated like criminals must come to an end. Currently, we are seeing the old axiom of “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The agents have the ability to have people arrested for the most meaningless transgression and the intervention of police at these emotionally charged and stress-inducing situations, all too often, results in actual arrests with no crime—the old “disturbing the peace” charge can always be employed and anyone who is paying close attention to the intensification of the “criminal justice system” is aware that trumped up charges are the norm. I experienced police intervention twice in the year 2002, but since I was in my airline uniform and had 170 people waiting to go to Cancun the police officers decided to let me proceed to my aircraft. One of my pilot colleagues was not so fortunate—he was arrested and fired from his job when he protested the idiotic snatching of his nail clippers since he had a large crash-axe in his cockpit.

Janet Napolitano has her work cut out for her and she had better step forward. The commercial airline environment is coming unraveled and more potential flyers are now heading for the highway as they do not want to deal with all of the stress, grief, and aggravation that frequently haunt the airline passenger. Chaos in the cabin is intensifying and now we hear of pilots and flight attendants flipping out. A precursor to the stress in the cabin is the always emotionally-trying passage through the gauntlet of airport security. The airlines are losing a lot of revenue as people avoid the long lines and oppressive treatment. As Popeye so famously said, “I can stands so much, and I can’t stands no more.” It is time for the American people to take back at least a portion of their human rights and dignity and stand up for some humane treatment at the airport.

You-Tube has numerous videos that portray activity at airport security that will repulse the viewer. To become further repulsed please note that a recent drug bust in LAX implicated several TSA agents and a similar East Coast investigation revealed that agents at three airports were on the take while facilitating illegal prescription drug transportation. An internal memo recently revealed that TSA people are hired for their jobs before a security clearance has been accomplished. Pre-TSA airport security was pathetic but our current system appears to be in need of major rehabilitation. We must hire people who can be trusted to make sound judgment decisions such as avoiding the pat-down of babies and crippled grandmothers in wheelchairs. For those folks that understand the airport environment it is very clear that most of the TSA concourse lunacy is eye-wash.

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation. (www.therogueaviator.com)

PRIVATE JETS AT THE MASTERS

If it ain’t a Learjet I ain’t going!

On Sunday past, the Augusta, Georgia airports, Bush Regional airport and Daniel Field were inundated with the private jets of the rich and famous which includes several of the participant golfers in the 76th Masters Golf tournament. Even Bubba Watson, the self-proclaimed country hick from the panhandle of Florida, most likely departed on a private jet. I have nostalgic flashbacks to several early Aprils during the mid-70s when I used to fly Jack Nicklaus to the Masters in the Learjet that he chartered from my company. (For more info read The Rogue Aviator   (www.therogueaviator.com). Will Bubba Watson now be getting his personal jet? I don’t blame him if he does, because anytime one can avoid the commercial airline environment it greatly enhances quality of life (even if you go by Amtrak). I was fortunate enough to spend eight years of my career flying privately chartered and corporate jets and once you have hung around those people that we now identify as “the one-per-centers” you do not want to be exposed to the angry mob back in the “steerage-section” of the commercial jet.

The growth of the private jet travel is certainly fueled by the increased wealth of those few at the top of the food chain, and the desire to avoid TSA has brought to the private terminals (FBOs) many people who would normally pay the exorbitant first class fares on an airline, but have now decided to dig a little deeper into the trust fund to “just take the jet” (a popular phrase amongst the well-heeled). If you have several people travelling you can “take the jet” for only a few thousand dollars more than what you might spend slumming around the crowded, chaotic world of commercial air travel. As a result, there are now several private jet “airlines” that employ experienced and well-trained pilots to get you to your destination safely. A couple of these are Net Jets and Marquis Jets. If you are in South Florida you can ride on Hop-a-Jet, a fine company that was the legacy of an aviation all-star, Harvey Hop. There are some fly-by-night charter companies (such as the one that golfer Payne Stewart unwisely selected without proper vetting), so, if possible, do some vetting before you get on that chartered jet.

After having been through the “back alleys of aviation” during my 36-year aviation career I can only recommend to the professional pilot seeking a stable career with reasonable work conditions and benefits to consider a career in the world of corporate aviation. The quality of life is infinitely better than that which one experiences with most FAR 121 air carriers. I spent 3 consecutive years wandering around Augusta National golf course as my client, Jack Nicklaus made sure that his pilots had tickets to the tournament. Many people will sell their soul for one of those coveted ducats. Also, hanging around five-star hotels with all expenses paid is always preferable to that Motel 6 next to the railroad tracks for an eight hour layover—minimum rest time for airline pilots.

The small downside is the greatly increased  per-capita carbon footprint that results with the fewer people in the airplane. Let us not be concerned about the possibility of global warming devastating planet earth—let the good times roll; we’re taking the jet to St Moritz for the weekend.

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator:in the Back Alleys of Aviation  www.therogueaviator.com).