General aviation airport inspections and the TSA

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In my previous post I covered what an agent of the TSA could “request” of a general aviator. Because the article was so regulation intense, I sent an early draft to the TSA’s Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs for comment. They afforded me the courtesy of a review with useful comments by my requested deadline. Thank you.

I want to share two comments from my reviewer that go further into TSA authority and assistance. The first comment pertains to the authority of the TSA to conduct airport inspections. The second deals with a useful resource that’s been around a while, but is still worthy of mention.

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Of airport BBQs and the TSA

HOOK Photo

I am partial to barbeques, so when I received a recent invitation to go to a local airport and enjoy a free barbeque lunch and escape the office, I jumped at the opportunity.

I had the pleasure of enjoying my pulled-pork sandwich and iced tea with some local aviators that call the airport home. The opportunity to sit outside, talk about airplanes, and swap flying stories was a like a breath of fresh air. It sure beats reading intelligence reports and legislative proposals!

While my lunch buddies and I took turns swapping stories, one told me that a pair of officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had been walking around and asking questions at the airport recently. According to my picnic tablemate, the single biggest question posed by the agents was why airplanes didn’t have propeller locks installed when they were parked behind locked hangar doors. I was more concerned about why the two were there in the first place and that my lunch buddy somehow felt compelled to answer their questions.

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Kid’s Day at Calhoun County Airport


Calhoun County Airport (PKV) in Port Lavaca, Texas, recently hosted its annual Kid’s Aviation Day. More than 315 students from Travis Middle School and Seadrift School visited the FBO ready to learn about the aerospace community and differences between various planes.

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Bombing in Valkaria


Valkaria Airport (X59) lies on the eastern coast of Florida, south of the much larger Melbourne International, and north of Vero Beach Municipal, the home of Piper Aircraft. The non-towered, sleepy airport at Valkaria has no self-esteem problem, however. They’re small and casual and friendly and they like it that way.

Social and civic organizations like EAA Chapter 1288 thrive at Valkaria, and it is these grass-roots, general aviation pilots and aviation enthusiasts who keep this former World War II auxiliary field open, operating, and available to the public. Yet even with all that going for it, it wasn’t the history of the field, or the EAA, or even its ongoing battles with non-aviation friendly neighbors that drove me to visit over Memorial Day weekend. I came to see the bombs fall.

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General Aviation Airports Study released

The FAA has released a study called “General Aviation Airports: A National Asset.” The 18-month study was conducted “to capture the many diverse functions of general aviation (GA) airports,” FAA officials said, in the hopes that the “general public will have a better understanding of GA airports in the community and within the national air transportation system.”

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Aviation’s roots planted firmly in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s long and colorful aviation history is part of the fabric of the state, and its economic contributions have sustained it through wars and recessions, Gov. Mary Fallin said a conference sponsored by the Oklahoma Airport Operators Association, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission and the FAA. In a story in The Tulsa World, Fallin is quoted as saying that Oklahoma’s network of general aviation airports are vital to the state’s air transportation system. “General aviation is the connector. We think general aviation airports are analogous to the state and federal highway system; 97% of Oklahoma’s population lives within 30 minutes of our general aviation business airports. They are essential to moving business or commerce throughout our state.”

Is it security or bureaucracy?

Security results in action. Bureaucracy results in more bureaucracy.

There is no group of people better qualified to discuss action and response than pilots. From our first day of flying training our flight instructors teach us not to take an action for granted. Flip a switch, look for an action. Make a control input, ensure you get the desired response.

Security is the same. It’s action-based, not paperwork-based. [Read more…]