Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pilots with Ethics

Two Libyan pilots defected to Malta rather than bomb their own countrymen in Libya. Even if your country is a mostly desolate patch of sand that has been brutally mismanaged for decades, your country is your country and your people are your people. These pilots probably are proud of their country and don't think of their fellow citizens in the same harsh terms as their dictator. I like to think they had sufficient strength of character and love of their fellow humans to disobey orders and go elsewhere. It's possible that they are simply smart enough to see the writing on the wall and know that their privileged position in a once rigid society is threatened and that this was as good an opportunity and an excuse to get out as they were going to find. Nevertheless, even if its for a selfish reason, their avoiding doing a bad thing is laudable.

I'm curious about the so-called French passengers, too.


Milos said...

I wouldn't exclude the possibility that the refugees really are French. The country is quite rich (but the riches are poorly distributed) so there's plenty of jobs for foreign construction workers, oil rig workers, telecom specialists, defense consultants etc. Also there is a system of "exit visas" in place, ie. you need authorization to exit the country. So the passports are usually held in the central company office.
Now imagine french workers working on a remote oil rig, with looting gangs trying to raid their site, and they have 2 helicopters, but don't have their passports or exit visas. Of course they've tried to bolt to the nearest EU country. Which is no mean feat given that the country is in chaos, and apparently the air traffic control is no longer working.

Ed said...

Maybe the article's been updated since you read it but as it is now it looks like there are four aircraft: two jets (fighters, presumably) and two helicopters. I don't think it was a case of cramming multiple people into the back seat of a fighter, of anything.

As Milos says, it doesn't sound too odd that some French nationals with access to helicopters would use them to escape to Malta.

But, Milos, why do you think the lack of air traffic control would make much difference?

Milos said...

Photos of the fighter jets and helicopters in Malta: at DayLife.
The lack of civilian ATC would make a lot of difference in middle of a civil war, where the fighter jets are scrambling to bomb their own people.
Imagine traversing the vast Libyan desert with foreing tail numbers without guidance from ATC when you know that you will light up on the military radar that doesn't have usual feedback from ATC to tell them that you are civilian and OK. One of those Mirages might pay you a visit and your life would depend on how trigger happy the pilot is.

A Squared said...

It was also a pilot who took a stand that ended the massacre at My Lai.

Anonymous said...

I hope these pilots don't have wives, girlfriends, or children back home.