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The Austin Texas Tragedy and its Impact on General Aviation

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Joined: 19 Feb 2010
Posts: 12
Location: Smyrna, TN, USA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:46 pm    Post subject: The Austin Texas Tragedy and its Impact on General Aviation Reply with quote

It is a little too early to tell how this situation, involving the use of a small single engine aircraft by a suicidal man who wanted to get back at the IRS, will affect general aviation.

Every time something happens with an aircraft the media jumps on the hype wagon and starts sensationalizing the event. The politicians soon follow with the idea they can create a new law or rule that will prevent what just happened from ever happening again. Let’s hold another congressional hearing and turn the TSA loose to solve the problem!

An Associated Press article headline says, ” Texas Plane Crash Exposes Gaps in Air Security.” Give me a break here! You could just as easily say, “Texas Car Crash Exposes Gaps in Ground Security.”

Some of the recommendations coming in from “the experts “say that we should not be able to fly small aircraft without filing a flight plan. In this case, that would have made no difference. If you understand the flight plan system, as many in the press do not, you would know that.

This event is a sad and tragic for the families of those who have been affected but it does not deserve some new law or rule change that will affect general aviation.

General aviation and a small single engine Piper Cherokee (not a private jet as reported by many media sources) are not the cause.

The aircraft was the tool of the day that this man chose, sadly enough, to use to get revenge and kill. He was the owner of the aircraft and in that case no different than anyone who owns cars and trucks. No rule and no amount of security can get inside a man’s head to determine the day he will decide to use a personal means of transportation (or any other device or piece of machinery, for that matter) as an instrument of destruction.

This deranged man could have just as easily walked into the building with weapons or explosives and done more damage in terms of lives and property damage. It happened that way in Huntsville, Alabama, two weeks ago when a college professor shot and killed three colleagues and wounded three more. All it took was a pistol. It happens that way more times than we want to think about. Mr. Stacks could have also used his car, a motorcycle, or a truck like Timothy McVeigh and caused massive damage.

So, as a society, we cannot say that the aircraft was the problem and that we can prevent this from happening again if we change all the rules to keep people from freely flying their aircraft. What next? I can no longer drive my car down the road because it might be used as a weapon by some crazy person bent on seeking revenge in a suicide attack?

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and the ambulance-chasing media and “experts” with an opinion about the dangers of aviation will not take over the conversation.

As a society, we have to acknowledge that we are vulnerable and that we cannot totally protect ourselves from every possible danger. We do the best we can do without destroying our liberties and freedom, and then go on with living our lives. As Benjamin Franklin counseled over 200 years ago, “The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.”

In the meantime, those of us in the industry need to be prepared to defend ourselves and our freedom to fly in this country.

Thanks to AOPA for jumping in there to defend our industry.

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