On Friday, AOPA took The Boston Globe to task for an ill-conceived editorial praising Chicago Mayor Richard Daley for closing Meigs Field and calling for federal action to "reduce the threat...posed by small private aircraft."
In an op-ed piece submitted to The Globe, AOPA President Phil Boyer wrote, "Oh, come on. Something the size of a Honda Civic is a threat to our 'population centers and national monuments'?"
Regarding the Globe's suggestion that the federal government take a page from Mayor Daley, Boyer said, "Follow Mayor Daley's example? He plowed an airport under because he would rather have a park there."
Boyer pointed out that just a week after destroying the runway at Meigs, Daley dropped all pretense about homeland security and admitted that the real motive was to create the park.
The Globe editorial cited the recent air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over New York City as proof that the federal government considers small general aviation aircraft a terrorist threat. "But on April 17," Boyer noted, "the Homeland Security Department, which has the resources and expertise to accurately assess the terrorist threat, removed the ADIZ—and the restricted airspace over Chicago."
Boyer explained that general aviation has made numerous proposals, many of which the government has adopted, to increase security at GA airports in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Among the steps taken is the creation of AOPA's Airport Watch in consultation with the Transportation Security Administration. TSA administrator Adm. James M. Loy said of the program, "Members of the general aviation community are taking the responsibility to be observers with the understanding that they are the very first people who will see something out of the ordinary."
Boyer noted the value general aviation brings to the non-flying public as well as to pilots, noting that the GA Serving America Web site is an excellent place to learn more.
In conclusion, Boyer said pointedly, "Even though general aviation has borne the brunt of aviation security measures since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the plain fact is that GA aircraft have never been used for a terrorist attack and could never do the kind of damage inflicted by three airliners on that dreadful day."