...And Here, Darn it, Are The Heartbreakers
Final Compilations by ANN Editor-In-Chief/Blame-Taker, Jim
It is both the most "fun," and most difficult task, facing the
ANN staff at the end of every year -- determining who, or what, did
the most to promote the cause of aviation in the past 365 days...
while also chastising those people or entities that did all they
could to undermine the many successes the aerospace community has
managed to accomplish.
Alas, 2008 saw more
than its fair share of downers, aviation-wise. Sure, "stuff"
happens... but a few folks, issues, or entities seemed to go out of
their way to create problems for the world of aviation.
So... it is ANN's annual obligation to recognize Ten of our
Aero-Heartbreakers for 2008... in something of an informal order,
starting from the 1st to the 10th.
Let us know what you think of our selections... whom YOU would
have liked be included, or omitted, from such a list. In the
meantime, we hope those who had something to do with this year's
selections think a little more positively about the welfare of this
industry, so that future lists become harder and harder to
Be it ignorance, arrogance or just plain incompetence, these
were the folks or topics that made our lot a whole lot more
difficult and immeasurably injured the aviation world in the past
Shame on those issues, folks, or groups that made our lot so
much tougher in 2008...
The Rankest of Amateurs: TSA
Dear God…. The TSA -- Where do we start?
In the "good ol' days'
we enjoyed using/abusing the almighty FAA as the whipping boy
for all things that were wrong or negative in the world of
aviation… but today's troubling dilemma is that
something worse ultimately came to be. Yes, Virginia, there is
something worse than the FAA and it took Osama Bin Laden to bring
it into being…
The stories are rampant… TSA bumbling, TSA thefts, TSA
rudeness, TSA frauds, TSA over-stepping authority, TSA decisions
without oversight, TSA's own security mis-steps, TSA decisions
without explanation, TSA discrimination against GA, TSA idiocy, TSA
mis-management, TSA staffers with "questionable" skill sets, TSA
complaints from all quarters, TSA over-reaction… and DO NOT
get me started on the so-called "No-Fly" List which appears to be
this millennium's version of a McCarthy-style witch-hunt.
TSA has been attacking the American public with ridiculous
band-aids that (they think) look good, when instead, they do little
to foster true security… and instead of working with
the public to make this nation safer, they sit in their isolated
cubicles in yet another Washington Puzzle Palace, and dictate to us
how they DEMAND we respond to their will. The only thing missing,
(metaphorically), is the attendant goose-steeping that comes from
such unquestioned, unsupervised authority.
In the case of general aviation, TSA is targeting GA when the
evidence PROVES that this industry is, at best, a minor threat --
and at a time when the industry has proven, through such sterling
efforts as AOPA's Airport Watch (and others), that we are more than
capable of being a part of the solution instead of being victimized
as part of the problem. It is actions like this that suggest to us
that TSA is not so much about making this nation secure as making
the public THINK they're making us more secure.
Mind you, this happens at a time when our seaports are not
getting the surveillance they need (if you think that a hijacked
767 can do some damage, just imagine what the average container
ship or super-tanker might do), the nation's highways are filled
with semi's with extraordinary load-carrying capability and the
access to virtually any building or "target" anywhere on the planet
- and the ability to get close enough to any of them to do some
serious damage. And if you want to target a proven weapon,
just look up "Ryder Truck" in the yellow pages.
I could go on… but it's all pointless… at least,
until we have good solid evidence to understand our true
vulnerabilities and the 'human intelligence' (a term which has no
meaning at TSA) to develop a proper estimation of what we need to
protect ourselves... really. There are security threats everywhere,
but let's use some logic in developing a security plan that does
not revolve around the TSA's hysterical fear of attack from a
wayward Cessna 150 (I have a Continental O-200 up front and I'm not
afraid to throttle up… FEAR ME!).
The Washington ADIZ?
Please… what a waste of time, money and our government
resources. If someone wants to penetrate the ADIZ with a truly
airborne threat, the ADIZ will NOT stop them. That's a fact.
One of the things that truly bothers me is the absolute
amateurism/lack of professionalism we see in so many elements
of the TSA… from the faux kiddy-cops that somehow feel
entitled now to wear a badge (an insult to TRUE LEOs the world
over), to the rude, often uneducated, intolerant
attitudes held by many of the TSA personnel who work the
airport checkpoints (including the idiot who tried to recite the
"American Air Laws" to me the other day and looked at me like I was
from Mars when I told him that there was no such thing…
unless he was mistakenly referring to the FARs), to the MORON who
damaged those American Eagle TAT probes, to the fellow who got
caught selling stolen traveler's merchandise on eBay… and SO
MANY others, I can't simply find any confidence that this is a
cohesively effective organization. I realize that you can not
judge any organization by the actions of a few… but the
problem is this… these are not isolated actions…
every day we see a goof, an abuse, a danger, or an embarrassment
with the name TSA closely associated. This organization simply
needs to be disbanded and TRUE security professionals put in charge
of a simple, qualified program that is designed to be secure in
truth and not just put on a flashy show with shiny badges. Folks,
if you want a show, go to Broadway... but this act has run its
Finally; there's one
thing that really bothers me in all this… this is a
vindictive organization. TSA went after American Eagle after they
let the press know of the actions of the errant Inspector that
damaged their planes -- and the stories of people who have tried to
correct or even challenge TSA, only to be victimized for it, are
legion. This is something we know for a fact. I, and a number of
other ANN staffers have been on and off various lists for years, as
a result of of our editorial coverage of TSA… and I,
personally, have had to deal with increased problems ever since we
broke the story (along with ABC, I believe) of the aforementioned
TSA Inspector who endangered those aircraft.
Recently; after dealing with yet another inane bit of additional
screening (and the atrocious manner in which they handled some VERY
expensive media gear… even dropping stuff) and being lied to
by the TSA persons in charge at the time (who tried to tell me that
he had nothing to do with increased screening, that only the
airlines could do that), over the course of a solid 20 minutes at a
dinky little commuter airline checkpoint, I had had enough. I
looked this so-called Supervisor in the eye and told him that I was
in the process of buying a high-performance General Aviation
airplane, to the tune of nearly a half-million dollars, in part to
avoid the harassment, delays, damage and lack of professionalism
that I encountered in all my dealings with TSA -- and then told him
in no uncertain terms… "A half million is a lot of
money… but after dealing with the amateurism and lack of
professionalism I've seen from TSA over the years, I'm
beginning to wonder if I paid enough."
TSA… is not this country's answer to an increased need
for security… it is a dangerous impediment to our need for
greater security. Period.