Alarm at Austin plane crash troubles pilots
Many in the general aviation community urge regulators not to overreact to Thursday's crash.
The crash of a small civilian plane into the side of a government building is raising the hackles of general aviation pilots who fear the government will crack down on them in the name of national security.Skip to next paragraph
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Distressed over his financial situation and angry at the IRS, Joseph Stack flew his Piper Cherokee into the side of a building in Austin's Echelon office complex Thursday, killing himself and one other person. Mr. Stack appeared to be working alone and was not thought to be part of a broader terrorist or anti-government plot. And most experts agree no regulation or law would have prevented the incident.
Yet it was an obvious reminder of what thrust the US into the “war on terrorism” more than eight years ago. Some security analysts have already raised national security concerns about general aviation, pointing out that the incident reflects broad national vulnerabilities at the hands of individuals flying small planes with ill-intent.
Indeed, Rep. Mike McCaul, ranking Republican on a Homeland Security subcommittee, called the incident an act of terrorism, even as he recognized that it was not part of any organized plot.
All that’s enough to rally the troops within the general aviation community who guard their liberties vigilantly.
'General aviation is a small community'
“General aviation is a small community, mostly misunderstood by the general public and more unfortunately, our government,” said one pilot in an e-mail.
“We are perceived as a bunch of rich people with expensive toys that now can be used to kill people,” he wrote. “Frankly, we’re tired of it.”
Many pilots are quick to compare the perils posed by any large truck loaded with a bomb – witness the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
“We saw two people rent a truck and blow up a federal building but no call to require more restrictions on truck rental,” wrote another in a different e-mail.