AOPA's Airport Watch program serves an important role in securing general aviation airports - so important that money for the program is being included in homeland security spending.
Congress is expected to approve the fiscal year 2006 Homeland Security Appropriations bill this week - a bill that includes $275,000 for the promotion of Airport Watch. The money will be used for another widespread distribution of AOPA's Airport Watch materials to the entire aviation community. The Transportation Security Administration is also expected to continue funding the toll-free number (866/GA-SECURE) used by pilots to report suspicious activity.
"We created the Airport Watch program because we understand that the tight-knit general aviation community - the fact that pilots know one another and their airports so well - is the best security," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Providing federal money to ensure that the message reaches all GA pilots shows that Congress agrees."
The Airport Watch endorsement is part of the $31.9 billion spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
AOPA created Airport Watch in early 2002 to improve general aviation security. The association convinced the federal government to provide the toll-free security hotline, while AOPA created and funded pamphlets, videos, posters, and airport signs to accompany a massive pilot education campaign on airport security. The program materials are being revised to reflect current general aviation security issues.
October 6, 2005