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AOPA's Airport Watch

Lock Up—Secure Your Airplane

Lock Up

How to be more secure:

  • Become familiar with and practice existing airport security procedures.
  • Utilize aircraft door locks at all times when the aircraft is unattended.
  • Consider the use of auxiliary locks to further protect aircraft from unauthorized use.
  • Consistently lock hangar doors and close security gates to prevent unauthorized access or tampering.
  • Properly secure ignition keys separate from aircraft.
Propeller lock

Security begins with your own aircraft. Crime usually happens because of opportunity, while terrorism is generally pre-planned and choreographed. Don't ever make it easy for either. Similar actions can be taken to avoid both crime and terrorism. Always secure your aircraft. Most pilots do this by locking the aircraft's doors, regardless of whether the aircraft is hangared or tied down outside.

Many owners already use auxiliary locks to further protect their aircraft from unauthorized use. If you don't, consider how much less expensive it is to add a lock than to have someone steal your aircraft. Options available include a variety of locks for propellers, throttle, and prop controls. Pilot supply catalogs have a wide range of products to deter tampering and the theft of your aircraft.

Once your aircraft is locked, take home all your keys—aircraft, hangar, and auxiliary locks. To make it as difficult as possible for someone to gain access to your aircraft, you might want to consider whether you keep your aircraft key on the same keychain as your hangar key. Little changes can make all the difference.

Together we can make general aviation an unattractive option to terrorist or criminals!

Participate with your fellow pilots in the safekeeping of general aviation's local neighborhoods—our home airports. Report suspicious activity to 866/GA-SECURE (866/427-3287).

Look Out—Secure Your Airport

Look Out

Here's what to look out for:

  • Anyone trying to access an aircraft through force—without keys, using a crowbar or screwdriver.
  • Anyone unfamiliar with aviation procedures trying to check out an aircraft.
  • Anyone who misuses aviation lingo—or seems too eager to use all the lingo.
  • People or groups determined to keep to themselves.
  • Anyone who appears to be just loitering, with no specific reason for being there.
  • Out-of-the-ordinary videotaping of aircraft or hangars
  • Dangerous cargo or loads—explosives, chemicals, openly displayed weapons—being loaded into an aircraft.
  • Anything that strikes you as wrong—listen to your gut instinct, and then follow through
  • Pay special attention to height, weight, and the individual's clothing or other identifiable traits.

Provide details: Be specific in details whenever you report something amiss to authorities. Generalized concerns (e.g., "That guy looked shifty to me.") may not carry the appropriate sense of urgency. Be alert, report aircraft with unusual or obviously unauthorized modifications, and people or groups who seem determined to keep to themselves.

Details carry weight: "I'm at the Anytown Municipal Airport and just saw something dangerous loaded into a tan-and-orange airplane with tail number N1234. The pilot seems to be intimidated by his passengers; the passengers are keeping out of sight. I think something bad is about to happen." Pay attention to height, weight, clothing, or other identifiable traits.

Never approach someone you fear may be about to commit an illegal act or crime. Make some notes, such as the person's appearance, clothing, car license plate, type of aircraft, N number, and coloring. If appropriate, take a picture, but keep your distance if the situation seems hostile. If you can't safely contact authorities or the airport management without exposing yourself to risk, leave the field or go to your car and talk on your cell phone. It could be your best weapon in fighting airport crime.

Together we can make general aviation an unattractive option to terrorist or criminals!

Participate with your fellow pilots in the safekeeping of general aviation's local neighborhoods—our home airports