Skip to comments.SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!!
Posted on 05/13/2005 2:03:47 AM PDT by LukeSW
Aero-Views: Shame On All Of You
Fri, 13 May '05
No Heroes In ADIZ Incursion
By ANN Senior Correspondent Kevin R.C. "Hognose" O'Brien
I wasn't flying Wednesday when the city of Washington went into a massive, hyperventilating panic over a light plane in the ADIZ; I was driving the highways, and I got to hear the blow-by-blow on the radio and in periodic phone calls with ANN's Pete Combs. Good grief, what a shameful episode. There's enough shame to go around. Indeed, there are no heroes in this tawdry tale of ADIZ incursion, but there's a whole gaggle of goats:
Shame On The Security Establishment
..in the first place, for being unable to distinguish between a real threat and a bogus one. The physics of the Cessna 150 make it an improbable terror weapon. Indeed, we have an incident to show us that a Cessna 150 is not much threat to the White House. In 1994, a suicidal nutball tried to kamikaze the steel-and-concrete-reinforced landmark, and left an unsightly black smear on the wall and a divot out of the lawn -- who are we looking out for with all this panic, the groundskeepers?
A Cessna 150 does not a warplane make. But steeped in the shibboleths of relativism and egalitarian ignorance, security managers prescribe the same frantic reaction, as if it were some kind of anti-Newtonian universe: "For every action, an identical and hyperbolic overreaction."
The mighty 150 has a gross weight of 1,500 to 1,600 lbs, or about half the weight of a compact car. Even a 172 is lighter gross than the empty weight of my 1965 mustang (~2,500), which is pretty light by new-car standards. I think a typical Camry or similar vehicle is about 3,800 lb. You just can't do a lot of damage with 2,000 lbs unless it's all explosives... I know a little about blowing things up, and served for 25 years alongside the guys with the equivalent of a PhD in blowing things up, the 12BS and 18C demo men of the Army Special Forces. If we can't figure out how to destroy a big, strong building with a Cessna 150, and we can't, it's a pretty safe bet that Osama or whoever can't do it either: he puts on his baggy pants one leg at a time.
Then, there's the whole question of, "what about the building?" The White House is no stranger to hard times, having been burnt to a shell by a British raiding party on August 25, 1814 (the only surviving fixture from before 1814 is a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington which was secured by a fleeing Dolly Madison). The West Wing burned again in 1929. Yet the building endures. The walls are made of the original stone, reinforced during a 1948-52 renovation with concrete and structural steel, and light GA aircraft are not going to move them. QED. Most other public buildings in Washington are equally robust -- compare the damage and death toll at the Pentagon to that in New York. Or take a good look at the J. Edger Hoover building sometime.
Shame On Our National Leaders
...for not facing the risk (if any?) like grown men. A lot of the current security nonsense has come about because of the physical and even moral cowardice of our current crop of national leaders. If we are "a nation of laws, not of men," why are some men so demanding of special protection?
Our Government is predicated on the idea that no man is divine or irreplaceable. Our Constitution has been frequently amended to ensure that suitable procedures are in place to ensure an orderly succcession and continuity of government.
Apart from the troubling moral issues raised by special privileges for the Washington elite, there are practical issues involved in hasty and ill-advised evacuations like the one we've just seen. I've looked at several airline incidents that rose to the level of accident only when the crew made a judgment call to order an evacuation, and passengers were injured in the evacuation.
Why injure people unnecessarily, when few people are likely to be injured in the extremely unlikely event the worst-case scenario comes to pass, but some people are likely to be injured in a needless evacuation?
Shame On The News Media
I was able to hear the audio from the White House Press Room, and boy howdy, it was a pitiful display. Screaming, and yelling, and blubbering and carrying on. A most unseemly display, but then the most fitting 19th Century word for concept that's defined by the 21st Century word "metrosexual" is probably "poltroon."
The every-man-for-himself-and-devil-take-the-hindmost stampede for the exits was unseemly, unsurprising, and, as noted above, unsafe. You are much safer staying in the building during the attack than bolting for the exit, where you might be trodden under by Helen Thomas or somebody.
I always figured most news people would be no earthly use in a crisis (real, or as in this case, imagined) and now I have my proof.
Shame On The Men In The Plane
You didn't think I was going to let these two clowns off, did you? I mean, I fly in Boston and I know about the ADIZ. My friends in Florida and California know about the ADIZ. According to a family member, the unlucky pilots knew about the ADIZ, but they blundered into it anyway.
Research in the human behavioral subset of "being lost" has shown that humans, when confused about location, will seldom if ever backtrack to the last known location and try again -- even though that method, logically, offers a good chance of success. Instead they will press on forward -- pretty much in whatever direction they happen to be pointing -- for good or for ill. The only antidote to this deeply ingrained behavior, since one can't grab his hippocampus and shake some sense into it, is to have a plan and conscious procedures for safe recovery to a known point when mislocated.
Many people will focus on the instructor, and as the more experienced pilot and authority figure, he's definitely where the buck stops. The FAA will probably recognize this with a certificate suspension or even revocation (since the violation wasn't willful, revocation would be out of line. But the security organs will want their pound of flesh). I hope the instructor subscribed to AOPAs Legal Services Plan.
But the student also deserves a share of the blame. By the time you're doing ambitious cross-countries, you need to have a baseline level of situational awareness. A student can't just ride on the instructor's ticket (even if that is how the FAA sees it, in legal terms). He holds a ticket inscribed not pilot student but student pilot -- the first is the adjective, the second the noun. Students shouldn't be constantly in their instructors' faces, but they should be willing to speak up. Many an airliner has come to grief because a doubting FO held his tongue. If there was ever a place to indulge in bumper sticker behavior, the cockpit is where you "Speak truth to power" and "Question Authority."
These two men had a very unpleasant day, and they have more hard times ahead. But they were lucky; they very nearly died. If the fighter pilots had been what the Air Force calls "fangs out", this whole story would be ten times worse. The 150 pilots will live to fly again -- and one hopes, to enjoy flight again.
One Organization Reacted Credibly
After all this ranting, I ought to close on a positive note -- and there is one to be found. Despite all the things that COULD have gone wrong, the air defense organization reacted with as much restraint as alacrity. If the military and DHS intercept crews hadn't been at the top of their game, if the controllers hadn't been alert, God alone knows what might have happened. These disciplined men and women are trapped in a bad system that's not of their making, but they still performed like a symphony orchestra with Beethoven Himself conducting.
By the way, one of the clearest lessons potential terrorists could take from the events in D.C. would be how easy it is to create a mass diversion to set the stage for a real attack: In other words, get everyone hyperventilating and running around like idiots over a small airplane, dashing into the subways and tunnels of D.C. and then ....
Bull! Even a C-150 could carry something really bad.
The instructor pilot should never be in command of an airplane again..
***"For every action, an identical and hyperbolic overreaction."***
Now that's funny.
Freak out over a plane that can do minimal damage, including explosives, and ignore huge trucks that can carry literal tons of high explosives almost to the doorstep of any government building.
A Boeing 767 does not a warplane make either Fool!!!
How much anthrax can a Cessna 150 carry?
These mistakes include landing at the wrong airport. All one has to do is check past FAA records for such. Pilot heros that have never made mistakes are kidding themselves, it happens.
Granted most incursions are harmless, but if a scenario is outside parameters, then what?
And a boy terrorist flew a plane into a FL building.
Shame On The Security Establishment ..in the first place, for being unable to distinguish between a real threat and a bogus one. The physics of the Cessna 150 make it an improbable terror weapon.
And I wonder what his reaction would have been if security personnel didn't "overreact" and we found out too late that the improbable terror weapon was filled with something like anthrax (which is a very real possibility). Some people are just never satisfied; you take precautions against a catastrophe and you are being silly, don't take precautions and a catastrophe happens and you are at incompetent.
The security personnel in this situation acted very reasonably and should be commended, not ridiculed.
Isn't the fact that it was a Cessna 150 a bit of hindsight here? My understanding is that nobody knew what it was until the F-16's got up there to take a look. IIRC, the plane had no transponder and the pilots were not responding to hails.
The possibilities of crashing into the Whitehouse are so great that one has to accept that there is a risk to life.
Minimize, yes. Hysterical reaction, no.
I think you have your incursions mixed up. A German kid landed his Cessna at the Kremlin after waltzing in from Germany.
A Cessna 150 does not a warplane make.Oh, really? Not even with anthrax, or sarin, or ricin, or whatever?
And what about probes, testing our defenses?
I saw an interview with one of the F16 pilots yesterday and he was absolutely calm and rational and in the intervew he calmly and rationally related the calm and rational actions he took, under calm and rational orders. It was all by-the-book.
I would trust that pilot with my life. I wouldn't trust the writer of this anti-defence hysteria with my car. He'd probably leave the keys in the ignition in the parking lot.
I was just notified that no one was in the FAA DC Command Center at the time of the incursion. MSM is reporting...CBS?
D.C. in Dark While Plane Was Intercepted
I'm posting the thread now.
Having had friends that worked in the Command Center in the past, I find this difficult to believe.
The finger pointing begins. Two SNAFU's:
1. "At police headquarters, someone had disconnected a phone line that would have provided emergency communications from the Federal Aviation Administration, the officials said."
2. "Sgt. Guy Poirier was stationed Wednesday at the Homeland Security Operations Center, along with members of other local, state and federal agencies. He was in a room with law enforcement officials who do not have high-security clearance. Federal authorities with such clearances, stationed in another room, reported monitoring the actions starting at 11:28 a.m. But Ramsey said that they did not share information with Poirier."
The rule is for planes to stay away from the White House, etc. a certain distance.
Except that the plane would likely have crashed and burned in my neighborhood, serious consideration should have been made to taking it out when it violated the airspace and refused to communicate.
There is a war on. Unfortunately we are not able to restrict the impacts of that war to the folks who deny it exists. If we could, we would.