May 28, 2004 - The head of the Transportation Security Administration on Friday offered high praise for AOPA's Airport Watch and the association's efforts to keep pilots alert to possible threats. During a conference call with representatives from the five modes of transportation that TSA covers, AOPA President Phil Boyer, representing general aviation, asked Acting Administrator David Stone point blank, "Other than the 'heads up' we gave our pilot members overnight in our ePilot newsletter, is there anything specific you can add to the attorney general's and secretary of Homeland Security's public acknowledgment this week of a 'clear and present danger' with regard to possible terrorist attacks?"
Stone replied, "I want to commend AOPA for the work in partnership with the TSA to communicate and share information relative to general aviation airports. With the weekend ahead pilots should maintain situational awareness at GA airports.
"Through the Airport Watch program, your folks at airports have the ability to call about anything they see that is untoward or unusual that might help us. There is no additional emerging heightened awareness for the Memorial Day weekend I can provide, other than this is a three-day period with many events. Pilots should keep their eyes open for anything unusual."
He concluded, "Thank you, AOPA, for work you are doing in concert with the agency."
After the conference call, Boyer said, "Adm. Stone clearly sees GA pilots as part of the solution - not part of the problem. So now we need to step up and do our part to protect the GA infrastructure. Follow the guidelines laid out in the Airport Watch brochure. And if you do see something, remember the nationwide toll-free hotline, 866/GA-SECURE (866/427-3287).
"Keeping our eyes open when we're at our local airports affords us the unique opportunity to deny terrorists access to GA."