The folks at Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration have reached out and touched my life.

Okay, I’m on a rant here. I understand the need for tougher restrictions and tighter security when you prepare to board a plane at some place like Memphis International.

My younger brother and I were flagged as “risks” last April when the two of prepared to board a jet at Memphis International to fly to Las Vegas to pick up a Cessna 172 he had bought on Ebay. That’s a story for another time.

I told my brother we would trip just about every security protocol because of how we were traveling. Here’s the scenario: Two males, one of them doesn’t look like his photo ID (me, I had grown a beard). We’re flying on one-way tickets, we didn’t have any carry-on luggage, the carry-on bags we had were filled with aviation headsets, GPS, devices with wires and batteries and aviation maps for flying. I can honestly say my medical doctor would have been proud of the job the security people conducted. They did everything but a cavity search and I really was expecting that. They patted us down, scanned us, had us take off our belts and roll down the waistline of our jeans. We took off our shoes and they checked there. I figured that if I kept on removing clothing, someone was going to owe me dinner or a nice breakfast. All of this and two of the people involved in the security procedure knew me. But I understand the need for tight security at an airport like Memphis International.

What I don’t understand are the new security restrictions at Charles Baker airport where my partners and I keep our private plane. First, let me tell you, general aviation aircraft tend to be small. Our Piper Warrior has four seats but is basically a two seater with space for luggage. It holds a total of 50 gallons of fuel. Some SUV’s carry that much. Except for that bonehead kid in Tampa, who stole a plane and flew it into the side of a building to commit suicide back in 2001, small planes are not effective for causing intentional damage. When they crash, they tend to kill those on board and leave only a modest sized impact crater. Small planes are just that: small.

So, imagine my surprise when I first heard of rumors that pilots would need a fingerprint scan to access Charles Baker airport north of Frayser and its sibling airport, General Dewitt Spain airport in downtown Memphis. It seems Homeland security gave grants to both airports to tighten security and by golly, that money was going to be used for just that. They raised the security fences around the airport perimeter to about eight feet, installed security cameras at key locations and installed a fingerprint scanner. Previously, you had to enter a code at the gate to drive onto the tarmac. My wife and I went in yesterday to have our fingerprint scanned and to be screened by the same guys who see us there on a regular basis.

But here’s the rub: Anybody who arrives at the airport can WALK right through the building and onto the same tarmac area WITHOUT HAVING TO GO THROUGH SECURITY AT ALL. No access code, no secret handshake, no nothing. And the airport building is generally empty!

Let’s see, if I wanted to steal a plane, would I drive out on the tarmac or would I sneak through the building and walk out there to do my dastardly deed. On top of everything else, this past summer, spillover traffic from the Memphis Motorsports Park located just to the west, was parked on airport property. Were all of these people who drove their RV’s from out of town screened? That I don’t know, but I will bet they weren’t.

This whole thing with airport security at Charles Baker puts me in the mind of “Officer Obie” from the Arlo Guthrie song “Alice’s Restaurant”. It’s about overkill. If you don’t get the reference, listen to the song. It will do you good.

Okay, I’m done with this rant.

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2 Comments on “The folks at Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration have reached out and touched my life.”

  1. mike Says:

    Do you have something to hide? Then why are you worried? It’s for your protection. You want to protect your family and friends, right? Your community? Stop terrorists before they strike? Then why are you upset? If something happens then I’ll bet you’d be real sorry we didn’t take reasonable measures to protect you, wouldn’t you?

    😉 As Ben Franklin famously said, “Those who would trade essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.”

  2. GPS Systems Says:

    Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you!

    I have a pharos gps site/blog. It pretty much covers pharos gps related stuff.

    Come and check it out if you get time 🙂

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