OPINION – St. George made national headlines recently when a man suspected of murdering a woman in Colorado successfully commandeered a commercial passenger jet secured at the terminal of the St. George airport.
I use the word “successfully” loosely here as his endeavors ended abruptly with a self-inflicted gunshot wound administered at some point in his short command of the aircraft.
Call out the National Guard?
I think not.
In true post 9/11 hysteria, the public and media alike have been on this like flies on molasses calling for the St. George Police Department, the City of St. George, and even SkyWest to own up to their alleged incompetence in allowing the likes of this to take place.
“What if he had gotten airborne and flew the plane into a building?” They cry.
I love “what ifs?” And I, in fact, have a few of my own.
What if the guy really murdered that woman and was on the run? What if the security at the small regional airport in St. George was up to snuff up to including a nightly patrol of the perimeter? What if just being able to access the plane and fire it up was not enough to get it airborne? What if in his almost successful escape attempt, he could not back the plane from the terminal without a ground crew and when he tried he clipped the building? People who think that it is easy to take off in an aircraft of this size simply do not know much about flight operations. It takes more than just a pilot to get those planes off the ground and, by that alone, it could be asserted here that since there was not a ground crew to assist the plane in operations, it was secure.
Being a pilot, what if he knew that after clipping that building there was not a chance of flight so he resigned himself to suicide in the cabin after leaving the engines fired up and the plane ambled around hitting things until it came to a stop while he was already dead?
Reasonable assertions aside, there are some correlations being made between this incident and the recent plane crash at the same airport.
My understanding is the pilot of the ill-fated flight last month was in fact licensed and had legal access to the aircraft; which begs the question, what exactly do these two incidents have in common?
The fact is they have nothing in common and calling for more airport security to prevent someone from stealing an aircraft again stands alone on this more incident, not both.
And on its merit alone, the incident with the stolen jet is an isolated one that can likely be prevented in the future by simply securing an aircraft itself a little more tightly.
Aren’t we already burdened enough with over zealous airport security?
Seriously, those who would purport the necessity of increased security, what would you suggest? More Transportation Safety Administration agents? More strip-searches? More armed personnel posted not only in the airport, on the planes, but now also around the fences?
The old adage of being careful about what you ask for comes to mind here.
This was a senseless and tragic event and what the actual intentions of the man were will simply never be fully known.
But lets temper our reaction with some semblance of reason here and ask if correlations between this event and terrorists really exist. Or are we in a bit of heightened post-9/11 paranoia and allowing it to dictate our reactions to this incident a little more fervently than perhaps we would in more normal circumstances.
I, for one, feel that I have had a lot of my liberties stripped from me in the name of protecting me since the attacks in New York. Ben Franklin said that those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither and while I despise people who use airplanes for weapons, I despise people who use these things as excuses to take more liberties from me more.
So should you. Think about it some.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.