I found it amusing that Mayor Daley of Chicago has been delayed in pushing for his plan to improve O’Hare International Airport. For those of you who are not familiar with the world of general aviation, Mayor Daley orchestrated a middle of the night bulldozing of one of the more beautiful airports around under the guize of a security risk. Meigs Field sat on North Island in Lake Michigan on property owned by the Chicago Parks District. Unfortunately now we’ll only be able to fly into Meigs on a flight simulator from now on.
I am an ardent supporter of efforts to make our transportation system more secure. However, this needs to be done within reason. General aviation has never been involved in a terrorist attack, and there is a limited amount of damage that small aircraft could inflict. The average four seat small aircraft only weighs as much a small car and can carry significantly less payload. Despite these facts, the FUD about general aviation is spread quickly and loudly. Most of the legislation that I have been hearing about lately specifically addresses small aircraft. Doesn’t make much sense to me.
A great example of the silly regulations that seem to have little effect on security is the Washington DC Air Defense Identification Zone. This is an area around the DC and Baltimore airspace that restricts the movement of aircraft and makes it difficult for non-commercial pilots and planes to even get into the area. The air traffic control system is unable to keep up with the requirements along with the pilots. Several businesses have gone under because they simply could not get customers into their airport. There are also several examples of screwups that point to the weaknesses in the system. In summary, like Chewbacca on Endor, it does not make sense.
If you would like to learn more about the issues of aviation security and how it affects general aviation, check out the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association. And if you are wondering what general aviation is, it is every kind of air traffic that is not scheduled commercial airlines or the military. That’s a lot of aircraft.
And if you have a chance, go flying with someone at your local airfield. There’s also a site where you can get a certificate that will get you a discounted flying lesson.