View Full Version : Armed commercial pilots.......

I have control
14th Sep 2001, 03:37
I'd be interest to know what other folk think about the following....? Just someone jumping on the band wagon, or positive action? Personally I find the prospect rather alarming..........


LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: In the aftermath of the World Trade
Center attack, Front Sight Firearms Training Institute,
which claims to be the world leader in providing intensified
courses in the defensive use of firearms for private
citizens and law enforcement alike, feels they have the
answer to stopping commercial airliners from being used as
ballistic missiles. Front Sight will train every commercial
pilot in the world FREE OF CHARGE in the defensive use of
the handgun. Front Sight will accept for training all
certified pilots and co-pilots from all commercial airliners
that submit a request for training on commercial airliner
letterhead, designating the pilot and co-pilot to carry a
handgun in the cockpit to defend access to the airliner. The
request for training letter must have the notarized
signature of the airline's chief executive.

Front Sight's Founder and Director, Dr. Ignatius Piazza
understands that his offer may offend those who lack resolve
in stopping terrorists from turning airliners into weapons
of mass destruction. However, he is quick to point out that
the World Trade Center attack is a new realm of terror, not
previously witnessed in the world. Prior to the World Trade
Center attack, terrorists were content to hijack planes and
divert them to safe landings in exchange for negotiated
release of imprisoned comrades. In extreme cases, terrorists
have committed suicide by exploding the grounded plane.
Airliners have also been targeted with bombs and possibly
missiles to spectacularly explode in flight, killing all on
board. The World Trade Center attack was a new form of
terrorism, where the commercial airliner, loaded with fuel
for a cross country flight is redirected from the cockpit
and turned into an accurate missile of mass destruction.
Front Sight knows this form of terrorism can be stopped
immediately by arming all pilots and co-pilots and training
them in the proper methods of defending their cockpits.

"Commercial airliners must be willing to take an
uncompromising stand that will not allow anyone, under any
circumstances to access the controls of an airliner," says
Piazza. "The pilot and co-pilot, are responsible for the
security of the cockpit. Without a handgun to defend it,
the cockpit crew is easily defeated. However, when both
pilot and co-pilot are armed and trained by Front Sight,
they have the tools, ability, and will to defend themselves
and repel the murderous intent of terrorists. In an
emergency, the pilot can fly the plane to a safe landing
while the co-pilot covers the door of the cockpit- ready and
willing to use deadly force to prevent anyone from opening
the door."

Dennis Vied, a retired TWA Captain with 28 years of
experience flying commercial airliners and Front Sight
student fully agrees with Front Sight's solution. Captain
Vied states, "The terrorists knew that they would face no
opposition to the hijacking, once they managed to get on the
airplane. All they had to do was threaten to do something to
a passenger, and they would be allowed access to the
cockpit. If that didn't work, then they just had to hurt
somebody, which in this case they did. Apparently they cut
the throats of two of the flight attendants. The terrorists
knew they would face no armed opposition, because the
airline screening process would insure that nobody on the
airplane would be armed. We have such an abhorrence to guns
that we fail to allow the good people to arm themselves for
defense. Therefore they are at the mercy of bad people- in
this case the terrorists. I sincerely hope that this is a
wakeup call to America. I think they should arm the crews,
or at least allow those that want to be armed to do so.
Otherwise, you're at the mercy of some crazy son-of-a-bitch
armed with a box cutter! How absolutely absurd! There is so
much emphasis on prevention, and precious little emphasis on
the ultimate lines of defense."

Aaron Benedetti, a United Airline 747 co-pilot since 1990 is
a Platinum member at Front Sight and has already attended
Front Sight courses in defensive handgun, tactical shotgun,
and practical rifle. Through Front Sight's training,
Benedetti is ready, willing and able to defend the cockpit
of his aircraft if given the proper tools and authority to
do so. Benedetti states, "We get recurrent training
regarding hijacking and security procedures, but the
training centers around placating and negotiating with the
terrorists to safely land the plane. We are told not to make
any aggressive move and to work toward a calm outcome. The
World Trade Center disaster is a real blind spot in our
training. The attack reveals that perhaps the only way the
pilots could have stopped it would have been to deny access
to the cockpit and stop the terrorists from taking over the
controls of the plane by any means possible. In the future,
we should consider that with the cockpit doors locked and
the co-pilot guarding the door with a handgun, calm
negotiations can still take place via intercom to land the
plane safely thus avoiding another World Trade Center
scenario." Aaron Benedetti recommends all airlines to take
advantage of Front Sight's solution and offer. He returns
to Front Sight later his year for further training on his

Lieutenant Bob Redmond, SWAT Commander of Nye County
Sheriff's Department concurs that Front Sight's training is
exactly what the commercial airliners need and that they
should immediately begin sending their pilots to Front
Sight. Redmond, who sends his SWAT officers to Front Sight
for firearms and tactical training states, "Front Sight's
training exceeds levels offered by most if not all law
enforcement agencies throughout the country. Front Sight's
training is so good that I want every officer we have in the
department to attend every course Front Sight offers. If
airlines sent their pilots to Front Sight, it would be like
having SWAT officers in the sky."

Mark Donovan, a pilot for Southwest Airlines, who has taken
over ten Front Sight courses in the last two years finds the
current situation of unarmed pilots rather incredulous.
Donavan explains, "The political climate in commercial
aviation prior to the World Trade Center attack has not been
conducive to arming pilots. In fact, just the opposite has
occurred. Airlines have disarmed pilots to the point where
a terrorist with a box cutter can take over control of a
plane because no one is armed to defend the plane or
themselves. Yet, numerous federal agencies are allowed to
carry a gun on commercial airlines, including such dubiously
qualified agencies as, Bureau of Engraving and Printing,
Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, and the
Smithsonian Institution! Why are federal agents from these
obscure agencies allowed to carry a gun on board when a
pilot with firearms training from Front Sight Firearms
Training Institute is not allowed? My training at Front
Sight far exceeds anything the federal government offers to
these agencies." Donovan continues, "If we, as pilots are
not given the means and authority to defend our aircraft as
a last means of defense, then who will? It is apparent that
time was not available to negotiate with the madmen in the
World Trade Center attack. Clearly, a properly trained
flight crew with a handgun could have saved countless lives.
Front Sight offers this training. I urge all federal
decision makers to seriously examine Front Sight's solution
to the problem. I believe it is the only credible answer to
stopping another horrendous tragedy."
Front Sight is the Solution to Gun Violence

Piazza reiterates, "Front Sight is truly part of the
solution to gun violence in this country. Everyone agrees
that law enforcement should have the very best training
available. Front Sight provides it. And everyone agrees,
regardless of what side of gun control one stands, that if
law abiding private citizens are going to own firearms they
should be trained. Front Sight provides such training to
levels that exceeds the law enforcement community. Front
Sight now offers the solution to stopping and forever
preventing another World Trade Center attack by training
commercial airline pilots to be that last line of
defense for their passengers, airline, and our country.
Front Sight stands ready, willing, and able to serve."

Dr. Ignatius Piazza 1.800.987.7719
Front Sight Firearms Training Institute www.frontsight.com (http://www.frontsight.com)
Captain Dennis Vied, retired TWA Pilot 925.455.0133
Aaron Benedetti, United Airlines Co-Pilot 925.454.5214
Lt.Bob Redmond, Nye County SWAT Commander 775.751.7002
Mark Donovan, SouthWest Pilot 702.270.3912"

_-============================================================ :confused:

Bailed Out
14th Sep 2001, 03:49
The reason the law is stronger on the ground is because it ultimately has more power, so why not in the air. That doesn’t mean it HAS to be air crew who provide it, it’s just that it’s another little world all it’s own whilst airborne and needs law enforcement

14th Sep 2001, 03:51
How many throats have been sliced open in your museum, Mr. PPL? Do you also find thousands dead on the East Coast alarming also?

Bailed Out
14th Sep 2001, 04:05
Depends on which East coast you're talking about............

14th Sep 2001, 04:13
Nice fantasy.........

The feds here in the states want to make it mandatory for random searches of flight crews AFTER having gone through security! It was outlined that prior to being admitted into the jetway, the ops (gate) agent would "randomly" choose a crew member to be manually frisked IN FULL VIEW of the pax (in keeping with the eyewash theme!), prior to being admitted into the jetway. I am grateful that out pilot unions put that to rest.....

Do any of you REALLY think that they would ARM us? The powers that be view us as part of the security problem, not as the solution that we COULD be!

Hell, we already HAVE control of the aircraft! It would be nice for them to make efforts toward KEEPING control........

[ 14 September 2001: Message edited by: Tripower455 ]

Bailed Out
14th Sep 2001, 04:20
Thank you TriP, for a minute then I thought RoadTrip was either on another planet or replying to some translated language for which there is no translation

Skylark 4 BLW
14th Sep 2001, 04:44
Errm guys, hate to interrupt this advert for firearms training, but isnt there the little problem of explosive decompression if you start introducing firearms into basically a pressurised cylinder..??

Unless you can be sure that all guns have extrmely low velocity ammunition, I can see more aircraft being lost through what the British Army call 'Negligent Discharges'. As for the idea of the Co-Pilot "covering the door"....jeez, this sounds like something of which Holywood would be proud.

Before you wonder by the way, I am a gun enthusiast - but on the ground!

Pumpkin Pusher
14th Sep 2001, 04:58
TriPower, Fellow Knight,and all, go to CBS.Marketwatch.com and read the piece on U.S. Reopens airspace by Jennifer Waters and Lisa Flowers 4:33pm et sept 13,2001. Pay particular attention to paragraphs 4&5. Paragraph 5 says, The second will involve long-term initiatives, such as ARMING Pilots, placing air marshals on planes, screening passengers and trining flight attendants with anti-terrorist combat preparation. FINALLY!!! FLY SAFE

14th Sep 2001, 05:18
Errm guys, hate to interrupt this advert for firearms training, but isnt there the little problem of explosive decompression if you start introducing firearms into basically a pressurised cylinder..??

Close the outflow valve!

The decompression is not as big a deal as hitting a vital system component.

A leak from a small diameter hole would likely be controlled by the outflow valve, and in the worse case scenario, would result in a relatively slow decompression. It also depends on the differential pressure at the time, and how well the fuse actually seals. I have seen MX do a pressurization check during a heavy check on a 727, where they coated the a/c with soapy water, and pressurized it. Every seam bubbled, and it was considered normal.

After all this, I am not too sure about arming commercial pilots with firearms.......I think that some sort of non lethal device would be more appropriate, considering the confines and the situation. In today's litigious society, I am not too sure I'd like the responsibility of securing (or god forbid....USING!) a firearm in the airline world!

BTW, I am a gun owner, and have had a ccw for years.........

Bailed Out
14th Sep 2001, 06:08

It's better than the suggested alternatives.

It doesn’t have to be lethal!

Willit Run
14th Sep 2001, 06:35
Guns were outlawed on planes long ago and that did not stop the criminals! Now knives will be outlawed. Do you really think criminals will head this knew restriction?
The only reason these terrorists were able to get away with this, is they knew noone had a way to stop them. Pilots with hand guns in there bags would have, in my belief, saved at least one plane!

Kid Capt
14th Sep 2001, 06:38
Talk about trying to close the door after the horse has bolted. An aircraft full of passengers and aviation fuel is no place for a firearm of any sort.

The problem has to be addressed on the ground before the passengers board the aircraft, through additional security screening. This is not an easy option, as it implies, additional inconenience for passengers, and higher levels of professionalism and accountablity for airport and airline administration and front line staff. The consequences of not implementing these checks are already evident.

Something needs to be done but arming the cockpit crew is not the answer.

14th Sep 2001, 08:14
The wholre problem to your reply though Kid Capt is that the terrorists are not just carrying the weapons on board but some are being left on board for them... I agree that we should be careful when arming pilots but you must look at the facts as they are. Stage coaches of the west pretty much went with at least one armed gaurd on board... Why do a/c which are more volatile not have any gaurds visible or not on board? Because everyone keeps saying that we will be safe in our skies. We havce the technology to see the weapons before they get to the plane. You can walk through any check system with a ceramic or glass knife, It is not detectable. So how do you propose to stop these unidentifiable weapons from slipping on board? It means you have to do a strip search which you are not allowed to do without probable cause. They will not have probable cause in random searches because those weapons as earlier stated cannot be detected. We need to do something along the way to arm our pilots or put armed guards on board each a/c...

God Bless the victims and their families

Squawk 8888
14th Sep 2001, 08:34
I say low-pressure 22s for the flight deck, like the security guys on El Al have. Give tasers to the hosties. Some have suggested pepper spray but given the ventillation of the average A/C that would be like firing a shotgun in a crowded room.

I don't like the new measures one bit. They will cause tremendous inconvenience, cost the airlines a fortune and further erode our freedom. I've even heard commentators suggest that we force everyone to carry a national ID, not unlike the internal passports of the old Soviet Union, and register every change of address with Big Brother. If that happens, the terrorists have won. The only way to stop this madness is to assure every wannabe martyr that not only will he die but his mission will fail. The only way to do that is to have an armed presence on every aircraft and the most economical way to achieve that is by arming the crew. Under Canadian law, the PIC is a peace officer- why are we the only unarmed peace officers in the country?

One development that has already taken place will do more than any of the new security measures to make flying safer. Until Tuesday, conventional wisdom was that those aboard a hijacked plane were hostages whose best chance of survival would be to co-operate. Now the stakes are far higher and more pax are inclined to fight back, as happened in Pennsylvania. I truly pity the next yob who starts an air rage incident- he'll probably be beaten to death by his fellow pax.

14th Sep 2001, 09:41
Pistols were carried in Northwest cockpits on mail runs as late as the 1960's.

Alaska state law requires the carriage of a firearm on genav flights.

To loosely quote PJ O'Rourke - anyone who hates guns has never held one in his hand while in fear for his life....

Thomas Doubting
14th Sep 2001, 10:07
You raise a good point there Squawk. One important thing that these atrocities will have changed is passenger’s perception of a highjack. If highjacked, think that passengers will no longer assume that they are being held as political bargaining chips. They are more likely to assume the worst, and want to do something about it, rather that sit there and go meekly to their deaths, and that of countless others on the ground?

The passengers themselves are probably the greatest asset to their own safety, there’s a lot more of them in the cabin than the crew. On any average flight there’s many times more physically capable males than cabin attendants.

Why should it assumed that they are deaf, dumb and stupid self loading freight?

Totally removing anything remotely usable as a weapon from all the law abiding passengers may not be the best thing to do when you consider that the bad guys have always managed to get what they want aboard.

Constable Clipcock
14th Sep 2001, 10:21
While I fully support the option of permitting the flight crew to carry sidearms, the primary responsibility for armed security in-flight needs to rest with full-time security personnel.

A heavy transport demands a flight crew that devotes most of their working time to training for their flight crew duties — when not actually performing them. If someone thinks it's realistic for a flight-crew to devote an extra 2-3 hours per day to an elite-level PT regimen, another 2-3 hours on unarmed and impact-/edged-weapon techniques, and the balance of each training day boning up on Battle Drills (mostly live-fire), he's sadly mistaken.

Factor in an additional training budget that allows 5000-9000 rounds of ammunition per crewmember per annum and a new weapon per crewmember per month — they wear out that quickly if you're training properly!

To expect a flight-crew to function as an in extremis counter-hijacking team in addition to their usual duties is unforgivably stupid.

In the mil/LE special-ops community, what is commonly known as the "tubular assault" (a/c, bus, train takedown) is one of the most difficult Close Quarter Battle problems that can present. Introducing innocent bystanders into the equation — co-mingled among and between the various belligerents at nearly point-blank range and under extreme duress — demands precisely the standard of CQB training to which I alluded above. To further complicate the issue, most systems of civil jurisprudence of which I am aware do not recognize the concept of "collateral damage" when pax start dying from rounds off-target, whether due to substandard marksmanship or overpenetration!

The standard this task demands can only be achieved and maintained by personnel whose full-time occupation consists solely of security — and specifically, counter-hijacking — duties. To rely upon any lesser standard from an armed in-flight security resource is legally dubious and morally unconscionable.

That said, I'll drift off-topic for a moment and add a personal footnote:

Given the current situation cause by this week's developments, my plans for completion of my FAA CPL-ASEL/RH (just a few hours left!) are undoubtedly going to be on an indefinite hold now. As a National Guardsman — ex-paratrooper turned Cavalry Scout team-leader — I anticipate my unit will likely be called to active duty at some point in the near future. Until it's over, the C172 and R22 remain stabled in exchange for an HMMWV w/Mk-19 and a nice load of other assorted nasties.

May those responsible for Tuesday's atrocity become the owners of gaping new ńssh°les — forcefully ripped — speedily and soon.

PS: The support of those from the European side of the Pond is duly noted and appreciated!

Nick Figaretto
14th Sep 2001, 12:34
I must say I fully agree with you, Constable.

A Michael Jackson quote springs to my mind: "I'm a lover not a fighter..." :(

I am not trying to be a smart ass here, but what I am trying to say is that I would need a tremendous amount of trainig to be able to handle a handgun in my cockpit. It's not only a matter of pointing and shooting.

I have handled handguns (glocks), machine pistols (MP-5s), machine guns (MG-3s) and 105mm tank cannons (Leopard tanks), but handling a hand gun in a cockpit would be a totally different matter.

If there were to be handguns in a commercial jetliner, this handgun should be handled by trained, proffessional Air Marshals.

I'm afraid there are not any "magic recipes" on what to do now, other than a generally higher level of security in all parts of the "security chain".

As I have stated in an other thread earlier: Tuesday's events were unique. If the standard procedure for dealing with hijackers was: "Turn the aircraft inverted an pull the stick as hard as you can," literally thousands of lives would have been saved last tuesday. We can't have this as a standard procedure. But this illustrates what extremely difficult situation we are in right now.

Similarly, if an airliner goes down because of a regular gunfight between crew members and hijackers, we can't simply say that: "Oh well, at least the airplane didn't hit the Eiffel Tower."

Lastly I'd like to tell you Americans that the sidewalk outside the American Embassy in Oslo is over-filled with flowers, burning candles, and condolence cards from people all over Norway.

We feel your pain.

I've had a stommach ache for three days now. :(


Cross Check
14th Sep 2001, 13:06
I would have to agree with Constable Clipcock - the risks and expectations of arming the flight crew are unacceptably high. To echo what I mentioned on another thread ...

As for firearms on the flight deck - hmmm, I'm not so sure about THAT. I've personally seen too many people exercise poor judgement with a firearm, particularly civvies and those who use them infrequently. I've seen recruits who have had drill after drill instilled in them and still screw-up on the firing range when under pressure or when the situation goes pear-shaped. Not to mention the risk of having ballistic weapons fire in a pressure hull. And what if you shot a first class passenger by accident (looking back from the cockpit) ...

Someone mentioned that a fuse breach through the skin could be acceptably controlled - true, but what if the round struck a window? I don't think they will hold up as well as aluminium somehow. What if the round struck something system critical in the wall cavity or floorspace? Besides there's not many things worse for passenger morale than turning the cabin into a rubber jungle.

gravity victim
14th Sep 2001, 15:30
Do any commercial aircraft have a camera that allows the pilots to see what is actually happening on the far side of the closed F/D door?

14th Sep 2001, 17:18
gravity victim, many commercial airliners have peep-holes in the cockpit door. I think you may be on to something with cabin surveillance. What do other pilots think of being able to monitor the cabin with monitors in the flight deck. It may provide valuble seconds...

As for arming pilots, I'm a little weary about having anything that can be turned against the flight crew, guns, tazers, etc. Personally I'd like to armed, but once the hijackers know that all pilots carry weapons I think that ultimately flight crews would be in greater danger should the unthinkable occur.

Hijackers wouldn't have to smuggle guns through airport security, they'd already be on the aircraft.