Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I was recently airside (i.e. on the part of an airport with the tarmac and airplanes, as opposed to the part with the car rentals, gift shops, metal detectors and baggage carousels) at an international airport in the United States. There might be no place in the world more uptight than an American international airport. Take the attitude of homeland security, the FBI, the FAA, customs officials, and security guards and roll them all together with an eight-foot fence, then top that with four strands of barbed wire, and you get the idea. You could cut the paranoia with a knife. Which is ironic, because I needed a knife, and discovered that I'd left mine in my other handbag. How girlie of me. What are the chances of getting a hold of a sharp knife airside?

Quite good, actually. The very first person I asked, less than a hundred metres from my airplane, was able to provide me with a genuine boxcutter knife. They are extremely useful tools. The presence of the knife passed from one pilot to another and back (thank you again, sir) didn't compromise anyone's security, just amused me because of its status as one of the least welcome items on a passenger aircraft.

Clearing customs, the border guard had had the temerity to ask us if we were carrying any "knives? guns? weapons of mass destruction?" And we weren't, at that point. One of the most excruciating thing about clearing customs is having to pass up the straight lines. I could have replied to the last with, "We looked, but we couldn't find any."


Anoynmous said...

It might not have been the Customs official, but on a trip I remember several decades ago somebody official inspected our baggage and other cargo as we checked in after flying across the border from Canada into US territory. One of the questions asked of us was whether anyone had a gun. When the answer came back affirmative, the official nodded and said "Good, good. Ammunition?"

I don't know the rules today, but at the time it was mandatory to have a hunting rifle as part of a survival kit when flying in Alaska.

Aviatrix said...

As far as I know that law stands.

I believe that there is no legal way for an American to fly through Alaska to land in Canada. She needs a rifle to fly in Alaska, but is forbidden to enter Canada with one. Perhaps if she ascertained that it would cause no harm to persons or property on the ground, she could hurl it out the
emergency exit as she crossed the border.

Anonymous said...

I am also a private pilot and was just looking into these rules, myself.

The rules were (formerly) that flying in Alaska further than 25 or 50nm from an airport required a weapon. Flying through Canada, handguns are not allowed, so if I wanted to fly from the continental US to Alaska via Canada, a shotgun or rifle was required since it fulfilled both requirements.

About 3 years ago, however, the FARs dropped the requirement of a weapon when doing X-C flying in Alaska.

Love your blog. You're dreamy. :)

Anonymous said...

Now you just have to resist looking at the moose.

navaid said...

That's so funny you say that (I'm the anon from 2 posts ago). I just yesterday was describing a moose stall to someone who'd asked me about that crash the other day on Coney Island.

Lord Hutton said...

Also. Yanks are mad