Apr. 30, 2004 - AOPA this week explained to law enforcement officials tasked with the nation's security that AOPA's Airport Watch is a valuable, industry-initiated tool for protecting the nation's general aviation airports. AOPA Sr. Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula spoke to about 100 representatives from the FAA, Transportation Security Administration, Customs, Secret Service, Civil Air Patrol, the military, and state and local law enforcement at the Anti-smuggling Investigators Association spring conference.
"This was a great opportunity to explain that the Airport Watch program gives the nation's more than 500,000 general aviation pilots an important role in keeping GA airports secure," said Cebula. "From the reactions I got, it's clear that these security professionals value the approach that we've developed."
Airport Watch is modeled after the highly successful Neighborhood Watch anti-crime program. AOPA developed training materials, including a video and posters to educate pilots, people who work at airport-based businesses, and airport staff on what sorts of things should raises suspicions, and how to report them. AOPA also sent Airport Watch signage to airports across the country, and developed and mailed a brochure detailing the program to every one of its approximately 400,000 members.
The Transportation Security Administration, working in concert with AOPA, provided a toll-free nationwide hotline (800-GA-SECURE, or 800-42703287) for pilots and others to report their suspicions, and also mailed brochures to the rest of the nation's pilots who are not yet AOPA members - another 200,000 or so pilots.