In the past week, there’s been a lot of articles in the news on how more restrictions should be placed on general aviation aircraft.
The articles follow the horrifying incident in which a Texas man, disgruntled with the IRS, flew his small airplane into an office building, killing himself and one person inside.
Some are asking what kinds of regulations can be put in place to prevent this awful event from happening again. Currently, all pilots are checked against a government terror watch list. And they must carry a current medical certificate when they fly.
But other than grounding all small airplanes, what could have stopped Joe Stack — a pilot with a current medical certificate capable of flying single-engine and multi-engine airplanes with no enforcement action ever taken against him — from flying into a building? True, Stack wasn’t subject to a baggage check or metal detector scan. But would those have stopped his mission to kill himself? I don’t think so.
How can one regulate against every potential tragedy? As a pilot friend of mine pointed out, Timothy McVeigh used a Ryder truck when he bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.
When the government starts doing background checks on everyone who rents Ryder trucks, “then I will start becoming concerned about who is aboard a GA airplane,” my friend said.