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Posted: 9/23/2001 3:51:08 PM EDT
I've been lobbying hard to reinforce cockpit doors and arm pilots. I thought it was a futile crusade at first, but we actually seem to be gaining some momentum. If you'd care to help the cause, please make your views known: To email the president: president@whitehouse.gov. To email Senator McCain: John_McCain@McCain.senate.gov Go to this website to email Senator Hollings: http://www.senate.gov/~hollings/webform.html To get your senator's address: http://www.senate.gov/index.cfm Urge your Representative to cosponsor H.R. 2896, which allows pilots to armed. You can read it by going here: http://thomas.loc.gov. To get your representative's address: http://www.house.gov/ email the Department of Transportation: dot.comments@ost.dot.gov email FAA security: 9-awa-security@faa.gov This is the letter I've been sending, in one form or another - it's been published in quite a few newspapers, too: I'm a Captain at the world's largest airline. I'm appalled that thousands could be murdered by terrorists armed with: Box-cutters. The airport security procedures mandated since September 11th wouldn't have prevented it, and won't deter it from happening again. They don't do much but inconvenience passengers and increase costs. And now every copy-cat crazy in the world knows how much damage can be done with an airplane. Pilots are no longer allowed to carry so much as a Swiss Army knife, but an internet search for ceramic and composite knives will show what terrorists can still easily smuggle aboard an aircraft. What are we supposed to do then, hit them with our purses? I'm told by my airline's flight office that the FAA feels pilots shouldn't have weapons because "they might be taken away and used". Well, what if our airplanes are taken away and used? If we make ourselves helpless, we've already done half of a terrorist's work for him. At Captain John Oganowski's funeral this week, I spoke with other pilots who have sharpened their belt buckles, screwdrivers, pens, etc. so that they might have a prayer of defending the thirty-million-dollar jets they command from guys with box-cutters. I hope the rule makers can see the absurdity in this situation. Many of our pilots used to fly with nuclear weapons, but now they aren't trusted with pocket knives! An emphasis on prevention is of course necessary, but we can never be sure that every airport ramp worker, baggage handler, caterer, mechanic, and refueler is trustworthy. Once the wheels come up, an airline crew is on it's own. We need a last line of defense to keep hijackers out of the cockpit. Relying on the skill and cunning of the minimum-wage metal-detector operators has failed us utterly. Federal agents from even the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution are allowed to carry guns on commercial airlines. Why not the pilots who are responsible for the aircraft? Many of us already have better firearms training than that provided to those agencies - and we're willing to get more at our own expense. I believe that hardened cockpit doors and armed pilots could have prevented all four of those hijackings. Make some of us Air Marshals. How much more cost-effective could a security program be? At the very least, let us carry pocket knives again. As Benjamin Franklin said, "If you make yourselves sheep, the wolves will eat you."
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