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Give Pilots the Respect They Deserve

June 01, 2002

"Line Up Here, Captain" (editorial, May 25) suggests that airline pilots are asking for special treatment at airport security checkpoints. I would suggest that pilots are simply asking for common sense. For example, what does The Times think has been accomplished by sending the pilot through the security check and confiscating his or her nail clippers? Just 90 minutes later that same pilot will have access to a crash ax and be at the controls of a 450,000-pound aircraft. Now do you feel secure?

It is time to advocate a system that uses our limited security resources wisely and focuses on passengers who represent a real threat. It is this type of system that would truly add to passenger confidence and security.

John Baum

Pleasanton, Calif.


The real question is why are pilots screened at all? Isn't the purpose of security screening to protect cockpits and pilots from passengers?

The pilots are going into the cockpit, where they will lock themselves in. They have full access to the controls of the airplane. Any pilot wanting to hijack his own airplane needs no weapon to do it, because he's already where he needs to be. And make no mistake, a pilot wanting to create a huge fireball at the end of the runway can do so on any takeoff, even if others in the cockpit try to resist.

Frankly, the last thing I want on an airliner is an angry pilot who has just been hassled in a security line. Leave the pilots alone. Preventing terrorism should occur at the borders, not at the airports.

Bill Marvel

San Pedro


Your editorial is in error when it states: "Everybody--repeat, everybody--goes through the same security checkpoints." Nothing can be further from the truth. Most major airports have many employees, from managers and supervisors to baggage handlers, who bypass security every time they go to work. Crew members, both pilots and flight attendants, are required to go through security.

Law enforcement officers can bypass security carrying firearms on flights. I am not just talking about air marshals and FBI agents; postal inspectors, forest service rangers or a sheriff from Montana all can carry weapons on flights, but the captain cannot carry a pair of toenail clippers.

As an airline pilot I appreciate the efforts made, and I realize that security is necessary and very complicated to implement, but somewhere between the intent and the implementation some common sense has been lost. Checking everyone would be fine, but that is not and has never been the case.

D.P. Byrne



We entrust our lives to the airline pilot, taking advantage of all his years of experience and skill to keep us safe during flight. Yet we want to ensure that he doesn't attack us with any tweezers, staples, etc., while he's doing this. I will endure the inspections. Give the pilots the respect they deserve!

Peter White

Sherman Oaks


Re "Pilots Ramp Up Campaign to Allow Guns in Cockpit," May 27: Flying is already a tension-packed task without adding shotgun-riding to the job description. Police are forever on edge about any minute's split-second decision to squeeze the trigger, lest they or another innocent person suffer. It's the police person's lot, so he or she keeps alert. Yet there's a fuss when a person is hurt by law enforcement and, of course, beware any deep-pockets situations in the wings.

If pilots are known to be armed, they'll be targeted first in the event of a hijacking, thus putting the plane at grave risk regardless of the subsequent intent of the criminals.

It's better to use strong, secure cockpit doors and, with or without air marshals, arm all of the cabin crew with nonlethal weapons.

Brian Rebbechi



Defenseless airline pilots? Oh, this is just brilliant! Where is real-world logic and common sense? Are American citizens actually stupid enough to tolerate this bureaucratic lunacy?

Karl Bosselmann


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