Pilots urged to be on alert during California manhunt

February 9, 2013

Authorities are asking for the aviation community’s help in the search for a former Los Angeles police officer accused of killing three people and injuring others.

Christopher Dorner, who was fired from the department in 2008, is accused of killing one police officer and wounding two others, as well as killing the daughter of his police union representative and her fiancé. The TSA issued an advisory Feb. 8 urging aircraft owners and operators to be on the lookout and take security precautions as the manhunt continues. The agency said it had no specific information at that time that Dorner was considering using general aviation, but that it is believed Dorner has had some level of flight training.

Pilots are always encouraged to “Lock up and look out,” following the principles of AOPA’s Airport Watch program. The advisory reiterated these principles and requested that operators use an increased level of awareness concerning any suspicious activity, urging them to report any suspicious activity immediately to local law enforcement and the TSA General Aviation Hotline at 866-GASECUR (866-427-3287). Among other security steps, pilots are encouraged to secure unattended aircraft, be aware of and report people loitering near aircraft or loading unusual payload onto aircraft, and verify the identities of crew, passengers, and baggage prior to departure. Airport personnel can find further recommendations in the TSA publication Security Guidelines for General Aviation Airports.

The advisory said it is believed that the suspect received flight training during his time in the U.S. Navy, “but the extent of his potential flying skills is unknown.” According to news reports, Dorner is a former Navy reservist.

The advisory notes that police describe Dorner as a black, 6-foot-tall male weighing 270 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. A photo is included in the advisory. Pilots and aircraft owners are encouraged to report any suspicious activity immediately to local law enforcement and the TSA General Aviation Hotline at 866-GASECUR (866-427-3287).