The tragic event of the deranged and frustrated Piper pilot (I learned to fly in a Cessna, so I think this applies to ALL Piper pilots. Okay, okay, just kidding!!) that went off his rocker last week, and crashed into the IRS building in Austin (sadly killing an employee) has no doubt got us all thinking 1) about the family of the IRS employee, and 2) about the family of the deranged lunatic. Our sincerest heartfelt sympathy goes out to those families.
We shall continue to reflect with sorrow over the sad consequences that childish and sad act of selfishness and evil had for the loved ones left behind. And, as "critic"-al thinkers, I have no doubt that most of us are also wondering what the longer term consequences to the General Aviation community might be, and how that act of deviance, might result in some further deviation from the norm we used to know in pre- 9-11 days, particularly regarding smaller airports where many of us hang out to watch planes and cheer the marvel of flight. (And drink beer when no one is watching, judging from the empties in the parking lots...). Or even perform delightful feats of challenging the laws of gravity- and probability, in my case.
(At least according to the many unkind, and unsolicited, critiques of my landing "style". No doubt, most are from jealous Piper enthusiasts, who are envious of a 172's ability to gracefully bounce about half a wingspan, instead of rather blandly plopping onto the runway- much like rather uncerimoniously dropping a wet towel. In stark contrast to the playful and spirited response of, say, dropping a golf ball onto a concrete sidewalk. From a third story window or so).
While we continue to grieve for the affected families of last week's tragedy, we also contemplate what coming actions might be taken in a constructive way, and perhaps well intentioned, but not quite so productive ways. One of our blog's great thinkers (and satirist/parody-ists) has put his formidable powers of analysis towards what might be the resulting aftermath of recent events.
Without further ado, here's our friend Black Tulips's first (of many, I hope) return engagement as a "headliner" (I suppose I give the Cessna's headliners a pretty good work out) on A.C. & E. :
February 20, 2010 – Washington, DC
The world still reels from the shock of Texas pilot Joseph Stack flying his Piper Cherokee into a Federal office building in Austin. The man’s grudge against the IRS ended in a fiery suicide attack. The Federal government has scrambled to react to this homegrown tragedy which some consider a domestic terrorist act. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently without a leader so Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has stepped into the breach. “This is Nine-Eleven all over again except the terrorist had lighter skin and no accent”, she said. “I told you this was going to happen. The Obama Administration gave business and general aviation one chance too many.”
Napolitano continued, “I am pleased to announce today the formation of the Total Air Marshal Program (TAMP). There are 240,000 active general aviation aircraft in the United States and an Air Marshal will be assigned to each aircraft. With over 600,000 active certificated pilots in the United States we can’t have an Air Marshal for every pilot – but we can have one for every plane.”
At this morning’s press conference she turned to Rahm Emmanuel, White House Chief of Staff, who said, “We are pleased with this rapid reaction to a domestic terrorist threat. We can’t let some retard in a bug smasher hold up tax collections in Texas. President Obama considers this an example of his dynamic and flexible Stimulus Package. Now there is a demand for 240,000 new jobs that weren’t there yesterday. Hotels and restaurants around the country will benefit from the Air Marshal’s spending.”
Emmanuel added with emphasis, “This should also make the Second Amendment folks happy as the Government is going to purchase a quarter million handguns. Nine millimeter is the preferred caliber as it will minimize collateral damage to pressurized aircraft.”
Next Randy Babbitt, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), took the microphone, “We realize that some will consider this an inconvenience and overreaction. In order to ease the application of this rule we made several important changes to the Federal Air Regulations (FARs). No longer will there be a limit on the number of crew or passengers in one seat belt at a time – independent of age and weight. Also you can expect a new set of pages for your Pilots Operating Handbook (POH). Depending on runway length and density altitude, pilots need not consider the addition weight of the Air Marshal and their luggage. In other words aircraft owners can add about 250 pounds to takeoff weight without regard to center of gravity.”
Secretary Napolitano offered concluding remarks, “We realize some will consider this expansion of the Air Marshal program an intrusion. For that reason the Federal government is seeking wide diversity in the Air Marshals. For the older family-oriented flyers we will offer retired law enforcement officials. For the younger and more adventurous we have several possibilities. Several of Tiger Woods’ mistresses have signed up and are in training. However we do have a shortage of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Air Marshals… especially the latter. I encourage all who have an interest in joining the rapidly growing Total Air Marshal Program for a bright future in the United States Government.”
Thanks BT- it's a great piece, with of course no disreverence for the deceased whatsoever- and I laughed harder than those whiny Piper guys who watch me land!