Airline Pilots urge for legal right to arm and defend have asked congress to change laws and to rescind FAA and other regulations which are absurd.
An example which was compelling to me is that the pilot and cockpit crew are entrusted with a 40 million dollar aircraft, and have a 15 pound crash axe in the cockpit, but must go through metal detectors and are not even trusted with nail clippers.
Read on my friends:
Here is a news line report quoting an article in USA today advocating rights and demonstrating some of the absurd reasoning and regulations presently in force”
Pilots ready to fight to defend friendly skies Union wants Congress to allow guns in cockpit
By Del Jones
When United Airlines Capt. Tim Claiborne flew fighter jets in Vietnam, there was a common expression among the pilots called ''Check 6,'' which meant ''watch your back for the enemy.''
''When you get out of the military, you take a deep breath. You're not at war. Life is good,'' Claiborne says.
Airline pilots have a deep-seated military culture, and it has surfaced in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Old rules about befriending hijackers are out the window, and pilots say they can't get the ''what if'' scenarios out of their minds. What if they have to ignore the screams of a flight attendant on the other side of a new fortress door? What if they have to crash-land the plane to kill as few as possible? What if they have to use the cockpit crash ax to bludgeon an intruder to death?
Before flights, there frequently is an informal cockpit discussion about who will fly the plane and who will fight to the death. They wonder if they should recruit a passenger posse.
And, in true military fashion, they want to be armed. On Monday, the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilots union, made a 180-degree turn by asking Congress to let pilots have guns in the cockpit as a last defense against their workplace becoming a cruise missile.
Many pilots say they ignored rules and illegally packed guns in their flight bags before 1987 when they were first required to go through metal detectors. USA TODAY interviewed more than a dozen commercial airline pilots, and all but one, including some who had been strongly opposed to guns in the cockpit, are now in agreement with Boeing 737 Capt. W.J. ''Skip'' Hapeman.
''It seems quite incredible to me that I am entrusted daily with a $40 million aircraft and the lives of many hundreds of passengers, but the FAA, in their questionable wisdom, does not trust me with a firearm,'' Hapeman wrote in an open letter to the Federal Aviation Administration.
''It's absolutely absurd that airliners can be hijacked with cardboard cutters,'' says American Airlines Capt. Brad Rohdenburg. ''The policy now is to resist and maintain control of the cockpit at all costs. Once we're up, we're on our own.''
David Linsley, a retired United captain, takes it a step further. Passengers should be allowed to bring guns on board, eliminating entirely the need for gate security, he says.
The lone pilot dissenter was Linsley's son, Capt. Ken Linsley of United Airlines. ''A lot of (pilots) are ranting and raving,'' he says.
Pilot David Austin of Sherman, Texas, says he would, for the first time, consider guns on board, but he warns that in the 1960s and 1970s, the ''first thing a hijacker did was grab the pilot flight kits and empty them out on the floor,'' Austin says.
Firing bullets inside an airplane could cause decompression or even an explosion, David Esser of the aeronautical science department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, told the Associated Press. But in war, calculated risks must be taken, pilots say.
They say they have no fear and an ''infinitesimal number,'' have resigned, says Duane Woerth, president of the Airlines Pilot Association.
But neither have they seemed to escape the paranoia that has gripped many. Pilots once believed that they would be the last killed. Who else would fly? But when American Airlines Capt. Richard Mueller made his first flight after the terrorist attack, he says his wife was ''reduced to tears at the airport.''
''One of the first calls I got was from a pilot with United Airlines, who wanted a bulletproof vest,'' says Tony Tanner, president of Kejo, a company that sells personal-protection equipment.
Guns may never be allowed in the cockpit. The running joke among pilots is that they have been stripped of their nail clippers and tweezers, but have ready access to a 15-pound crash ax that is designed to cut through the jet's skin to the outside. ''It's a pretty mean little instrument,'' Ken Linsley says.
Michael Buckley, who retired from Northwest 18 months ago, says a flight attendant, who he remembers only as Dutch, once stopped a hijacker on a flight from Tokyo to Seattle by ''nailing'' him with the ax.
''Dutch is a man, an ex-paratrooper in good physical condition,'' Buckley explains. The hijacker wound up bloodied and jailed.
Buckley says fire extinguishers are also weapons with ''an element of surprise. You spray them in the face with chemicals, then hit them with the bottle.''
Taking a dive, in a good way
Retired United pilot Leo Henderson, who now flies a smaller corporate jet, says he could render a terrorist helpless by going into a dive and plastering him up against the ceiling with ''negative Gs.'' But airliners are too big and their wings might pull off in such a dive.
Many pilots, such as American Airlines' Kevin Dolan, say defensive tactics available to pilots should not appear in the news media. It only serves to inform potential terrorists, he says.
Any pilot who feels ''macho'' enough to discuss such tactics should not be quoted, Dolan says, and journalists should show restraint.
''You are dealing with one of the most critical topics that the media has dealt with,'' he says.
But talkative pilots indicate that it is more effective to let terrorists know that they will never again be met passively.
''Nobody will go into the cockpit facing three guns,'' David Linsley says.
Rules pilots lived by for decades have become obsolete overnight, namely the ones that told them not to confront hijackers, but to win their confidence and get the plane on the ground, where law enforcement can take over.
Other rules were invalidated. A Northwest Airlines flight bound for Amsterdam, Holland, was on the tarmac in Washington last week when a false alarm led pilots to believe there were terrorists on board.
Flat fireman-style ropes are available on the ceiling of cockpits, and pilots have been instructed to lower themselves to the ground to thwart terrorists and keep the jet on the ground.
But terrorists now have advanced flight training. While it's unclear whether the terrorists who flew the jets Sept. 11 could have taken off on their own, Henderson says it's an easy transition from a Learjet or Cessna Citation to a commercial airliner.
Anyone with small-jet training ''can start the engines, release the brakes, push up the throttle, know the speed and get airborne,'' Claiborne says.
Pilots want armed marshals onboard, but that could be cost-prohibitive with 35,000 domestic flights a day, and pilots worry that terrorists could easily impersonate a marshal.
Some say it might be more effective to depend on passengers to do something. They would be told in safety announcements that seat cushions are good, not only for flotation devices, but as shields against knives as they move to overwhelm terrorists. Pillows and blankets are also handy.
"The Goddess of Justice is Blind"