Monday, March 24, 2008

Well, at least he hit the plane

I read where, “Federal authorities are investigating how a pilot's gun accidentally discharged in the cockpit on a US Airways flight from Denver to Charlotte, N.C.” The incident occurred during final approach according to the report. The bullet didn’t injure anyone or damage any of the controls and likely exited through the bulkhead.

“TSA and the Federal Air Marshals Service take this matter seriously and an investigation is underway,” the TSA said. “The pilot was authorized to be in possession of the weapon and he completed the appropriate training.”

A few random thoughts went through my mind, what was the reaction of the other pilot at the moment the weapon discharged and are those remarks recorded for posterity? Will any of them require medical care for damage to their ears? How many hours will these pilots spend filling out forms to explain this incident? How big a hole did it make when it exited the plane? Was there a Pilgrim’s Cleaners nearby?

Many years ago when I was with the Houston Police Department a similar incident occurred, if having a weapon discharge inside a patrol car can be compared to one going off in the cockpit of an airplane. According to well informed sources, a police sergeant had borrowed another officer’s semi-automatic pistol; but wasn’t familiar with its operation. While examining the pistol inside the police parking garage it discharged and blew out the front window of the police car.

That wouldn’t have been so bad had he not tried to act like nothing had happened by not reporting the incident. The bugaboo which came back to bite him in the hind quarters was when the other officer who’d been sitting in the car with him applied for workers compensation after going to the doctor’s office with a blown out ear drum; oops!

When all was said and done the sergeant got suspended without pay for three days and had to pay for the damage to the police car out of his own pocket. I caught wind of the hushed up deal and decided to have some fun since I knew the sergeant. He was a regular customer at the James Coney Island hot dog stand downtown. I got the manager of that store to give me one of their employee paper hats with the company logo imprinted on it. I then drew a bulls-eye target with expanding outer rings; marked 1, 2 and 3 Days Off. I then hung the target from the rear view mirror of his police car so he would see it when he got back from his unplanned forced vacation. My guess is the pilot who shot his airplane will have years of similar experiences to put up with from his fellow pilots.

About the only good thing I see coming out of this mess will be that terrorists will have to consider the fact that some pilots actually have firearms in the cockpit. What’s that line from the movie, The Untouchables, “Imagine, bringing a knife to a gun fight!” That little extra doubt might be the difference between a high jacked airplane and an uneventful flight; but that’s one we’ll never hear about, now will we?
Updated Friday March 28, 2008:

I got this from Say Uncle, an article published in the Washington Times claims that the pilot was following a poorly thought out weapons lock down policy and that the pistol went off while attempting to install the required trigger locking mechanism.

I left my comment:
“Don’t you just love how things get screwed up when idiots write the rules and refuse to listen to those who must conform to them? This information explains much more about how and why the gun went off; as opposed to the idea that the pilot was a total and complete incompetent boob as was generated at first.

This reminded me of a WWII story about gunnery personnel having their thumbs crushed or cut off while operating according to the manual. The fellow who wrote the instructions had to go and show them the procedure step by step. When he got to the part where he slams the bolt face home he remarked, “And that is how you cut your thumb off”, as he jerked what was left of his hand back…”

No comments: