AOPA letter to Linda Vester at The FOX News Channel

December 5, 2005

May 12, 2005

Ms. Linda Vester
DaySide with Linda Vester
The FOX News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Dear Linda:

Your show on Wednesday with John Loftus did your viewers a disservice of indescribable proportions. For a former public official to suggest that security officials summarily shoot down any small plane near Washington is totally irresponsible and smacks of demagoguery. That he incited your audience to applaud his sensationalistic comments brings to mind a mob mentality.

As a former federal prosecutor and Nazi hunter, Loftus should know better than to advocate for the American government to kill American citizens without any effort to obtain the facts. His statement of "we're at war" as justification for deadly force against a fellow citizen and his repeated characterization of private pilots as "spoiled rich people" are eerily reminiscent of the fear-mongering and baiting tactics that characterized the war criminals he once pursued.

More fundamentally, Mr. Loftus is just wrong. There was no security threat from the plane Wednesday. There was a scare, to be sure. But the small airplanes used by many of the 404,000 members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association simply lack the size and speed to be used as weapons of terrorism. In fact, no General Aviation (GA) aircraft has ever been used in an act of terrorism. There is a reason terrorists use cars, trucks, trains, boats and jumbo airliners to launch attacks.

Mr. Loftus' contention that private pilots are wealthy hobbyists is similarly uninformed. Small planes like that are commonly used for personal and business travel much like the family car. The plane in Wednesday's events was shared by 10 people who scraped together the dollars to buy and operate a vehicle that cost perhaps $20,000 - less than what most compact cars cost today.

It's disturbing to hear a man who made a career pursuing justice so readily call for the government to attack the lives and liberties of its citizens, especially while he sat in a television studio without access to essential information. You should not have let those comments go unchallenged on the air.

We can only be thankful that calm, informed professionals are watching over our security. They were on the scene, knew the facts and made the right call. Mr. Loftus would do well to learn from their example.

Sincerely,

Phil Boyer
President
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association