Jan. 15, 2004 - AOPA members are telling the powers that be at CBS News to get their facts straight and their reporting fair after last night's "Eye on America" story on general aviation airport security.
"You quite obviously know very little about the subject," wrote one Ohio member. "I believe your report was uninformed and irresponsible," another told the network. And one Denver pilot wrote, "The 'information' that CBS News presented in this piece was variously outdated, inaccurate, and misleading."
Many forwarded their comments to AOPA. Most were reasoned responses, pointing out all that has been done to improve GA security, the fact that the typical GA aircraft is incapable of causing significant damage (turning CBS's use of the tragic Tampa suicide two years ago on its head), and that cars and trucks can get close to targets much more easily and cause much greater destruction.
"The average mini-van, SUV, or rental truck can carry a far heavier explosive payload, be placed on target with much greater precision, and requires far less skill to operate," wrote one member. "What do you think is easier, precisely guiding a plane in 3 dimensions at 100 mph into your target or driving your explosives-laden mini-van into a building's underground parking garage and walking away?"
Several pointed to the destruction of the federal building in Oklahoma City nine years ago by a truck bomb. "A rented box truck is so ubiquitous as to be nearly invisible in today's life - even though far greater damage has ALREADY been done with a box truck than with any general aviation plane," wrote one New Hampshire pilot.
Others noted that the reporter, Bob Orr, failed to interview any general aviation experts, including AOPA. Said one, "Why don't you contact an organization that can give you the true story about GA? I'd suggest the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Why don't you educate yourselves on the benefits of GA to our country and economy ( www.GAservingAmerica.org)?"
"The sad truth is, nobody wins when a news organization does something like this," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "GA has been given an unwarranted black eye. The general public has been needlessly frightened. And among those who understand general aviation, the credibility of the network of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow has been badly tarnished."