This is the first post of our new GA Security Blog, written by Dave Hook, an expert on general aviation security:
With the Barefoot Bandit now doing hard time behind bars, you might think that the risk of aircraft thefts is diminished. But you’d be wrong. Late last month local law enforcement officials in Utah announced the arrest of two students who planned to use backpacks filled with explosives and detonate them during a school assembly. Their escape plan: Fly away in a stolen airplane from a nearby airfield. Sound crazy?
The theft of general aviation aircraft is not a new threat. In June 2005 a 14-year-old boy stole a Cessna from an airport near Fort Payne, Alabama. In April 2009 a naturalized citizen of Canada, originally from Turkey, stole a flight school airplane from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and flew it into U.S. airspace in the hopes of committing suicide by F-16; however, he only managed to crash-land in Missouri.
Sometimes the airplane thief is an insider, as was the case in February 2006 with the theft of a Mooney out of Big Bear Lake, California; the 14-year-old boys decided to run away from home by stealing their father’s airplane.
The theft of aircraft is not limited to piston-powered airplanes alone. In October 2005 a Citation 7 was stolen from St. Augustine, Florida, and flown to the Gwinnett County Airport near Atlanta, Georgia.
The point here is that we shouldn’t be complacent and let our collective guard down. Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead. Yes, Colton Harris-Moore is in jail for the next few years. But as the examples above indicate, the threat of aircraft theft exists beyond terrorists and foolish criminal thrill seekers. Take positive steps to protect and secure general aviation whether you are an aircraft owner, renter, student, or enthusiast.
Fly safe, and be secure!
Dave Hook, an expert on general aviation security, is president of Planehook Aviation Services, LLC in San Antonio, Texas.
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