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Posts Tagged ‘National Security’

Airline Security — Bah Humbug!

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

Note: The facts of the following are true, but my opinions are my own. If you don’t believe it check the links at the bottom, they all go to legitimate newspapers. 


As a lifetime resident of the state of Massachusetts, the story about the dead man found in Milton MA really got to me. Especially when the facts of the matter came to light.

Massachusetts is known for being the place where “the shot heard round the world” happened. (This was the shot in Lexington, MA that began the Revolutionary War in America.) Now however, a new saying may take its place. Massachusetts may become known as the place where – “the man who fell to earth” happened. (Apologies to Walter Tevis, author of “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, and David Bowie, who played the lead in the movie.)


But back to our story. A young man, Delvonte Tisdale, was found dead in Milton, MA.  His death was at first considered a homicide. The officials stayed closed mouthed about the case, until recently when they announced the man from North Carolina had fallen from a landing airplane to end up dead on the ground in a suburban area.


Further investigation revealed he’d hidden in a wheel well in the airplane and had fallen out when the landing gear was extended for landing.


Now, a couple of things about taking a ride in an airplane wheel well. It’s cold, about 55 degrees below zero. And it’s in an unpressurized part of the airplane, so no air pressure and no oxygen. Not great accommodations for traveling, in my opinion.


But this raises some serious questions. First how the hell did he get into the wheel well in the first place? Did this sophomore in high school simply saunter out, walk under the plane and climb up into the wheel well? Under the eyes of all the airport personnel? 


How did he get access to the runway? Was he wearing an unused uniform of a maintenance worker? When found, reports said he was “partially clothed”. Were his clothes ripped off as he fell? Or did he not know of the cold and lack of air in the wheel well?  


And the big one. Where the hell was airline security while this young man was climbing into said airplane? Airline security is fine.  No one would do anything today; it’s too close to the holidays. Yeah, right. 


If this had been the first time, maybe, and I stress the maybe, it could be considered an unusual lapse in security. But it’s happened before. The first occurrence I could find happened on January 13, 2007.  On a Delta flight from Dakar, Senegal Africa to Atlanta GA. This victim though stayed in the wheel well and was found after the plane landed. No mention was made of why the wheel well was checked. Perhaps some trouble with the landing gear?


The second occurrence that came up on my search happened earlier this year on February 9th. On a Delta flight from New York to Tokyo. Again the man’s body stayed in the wheel well. 


So, this wasn’t the first occurrence of this type of travelling mode. And the incidents were three years apart. The question still remains, why did it happen again? Why weren’t changes made to security regulations to insure no unauthorized person has access to the runways? To the baggage being put on the airplane? To anywhere around the plane as it sits on the runway waiting for takeoff?


The big question remains – how did they get in the wheel well in the first place? Consider a Suicide Bomber who wants to take down an airplane. He can tape the bomb to his body, get into the wheel well, and set a detonator to go off at a prescribed time. Sure he’ll die, but he was prepared to do that anyway. As long as the detonator and bomb materials don’t mind the cold, the bomb will explode.


And this concern has been raised. But what’s being done about it? No one will say anything concrete.  I seem to remember before the 911 disaster, the terrorists tried several “dry runs”. What if these are dry runs too? And if not, could the terrorists use this method?


These three cases, as far as I can tell, have not included terrorists. The first may have been thinking to make a better life in America. Maybe the second one wanted to get out of the United States. And the third one was a high school student, probably thinking himself invulnerable, trying to prove it could be done. But we can’t ask any of them – they’re all dead.  And, it doesn’t excuse the fact it’s happened three times too many.


So, all you in airline security get your act together. Learn to think outside the box. Stop this from happening again, and consider other methods terrorists could use. You’re the experts, prove it.