Editor in Chief Thomas B. Haines received many comments on his column, which suggested that “aviation is our common ground, but not much else.”
What does private aviation mean to you? Private aviation to me means freedom. It means the ability to go where I want to, when I want to, and do it without asking permission from a governing state. Aviation is part of my American dream—the pursuit of my happiness. I dreamt of becoming a pilot as a child so that I might someday have the ability to take part in this wonderful experience. I’m with the government and I’m here to help is a statement that too many of us are hearing too frequently. The reason that I am an AOPA member is that I expect this organization to act as aviation advocate. The first priority of this organization should be to protect our liberty and right to use our airspace in a safe manner, not to favor one political party over another.
I am a state trooper for a state with a very large population. Every day I have the duty to uphold our United States’ and state’s constitution. I deal often with the laws of search and seizure and I intimately understand that infringement upon individual rights has become somewhat of a fine line, which in itself is a travesty. The thought of our overgrown, overspending government continuously overstepping its power is an abomination of our individual freedoms. The thought of our government performing searches without probable cause is truly frightening and this practice is eroding the very principles that our founding fathers fought so hard to protect. These simple principles can, and do, translate directly into our cherished freedoms of the sky. The fact that some of our brothers in aviation are accepting this is even more heartbreaking. Look around. This government is not getting smaller. This government is getting more oppressive by the minute. We must not stand by and wait until our freedom has been taken. I assure you that after it is gone, it will be much more difficult if not impossible to regain. This is not an issue of high wing versus low wing. This is an issue that has much deeper and consequential meaning. Our members must act as one to protect our rights and liberty.
Comparing our diverse opinion of high versus low wing to opinions about the government stopping and searching pilots is irresponsible and devoid of any understanding of the present and history. Whoever says Stop being such pansies, if you have nothing to hide, who cares? and If you are a law-abiding pilot, what really is the problem?—while I admire their childlike trust in the power of government, I question their ability to understand what has happened to every nation, throughout all human history—with no exception—that has the unquestionable right to stop and search its citizens. Police states always start out in the name of safety and end very badly.
Paul Philip Pent II
St. Augustine, Florida
Benjamin Franklin famously stated that anyone willing to surrender freedom for security deserves neither. The nothing-to-hide argument is a straw man, in that unchecked power always turns to its own ends. Freedom comes with risks and is its own end. If you do not accept these ideas, please consider another country in which to live—by the way, they have all destroyed aviation.