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News & Editorials

Nitrous Oxide, Cruise Missiles and Heavenly Destinations

by Dale Lowdermilk
Founder, NOT-SAFE
Retired Air Traffic Controller
September 19, 2001


Would a gun in the cockpit have saved 5 lives....10 lives....5,000 lives?

Any pilot, who already holds every passengers life in his hands, should be given the choice of having weapon at his or her disposal. If you don't trust that your pilot will make the right decision during a hijacking attempt, perhaps you should consider taking a train or bus. (Many bus drivers carry guns!)

Armed sky-marshals will be just as vulnerable to 3 or 4 suicidal hijackers using the jagged edges of spoons, broken faucet spigots from the restroom, a fractured plastic plate or the neck of a glass wine bottle as any unarmed passenger.. If we are going to prevent all hazards, let's be sure to include those extra long fingernails (fake or natural) which could be used to gouge out an eye or cut an artery. The mentality of disarming everyone for perceived safety, will only create more victims. It doesn't make sense to take a pocket knife or nail file away from a passenger, when a terrorist can tape a nonmetallic dagger to his leg and put fear into the heart of a nation.

In 1987, following a rash of hijackings, several members of our organization suggested that passenger safety would improve if everyone were required to fly naked, if only one aircraft a time was permitted in the air, or if planes had to taxi to their destination. One proposal, so radical, that even I found it ridiculous, was that a small video camera be installed in the cockpit and if the pilot sensed trouble he pushed a button and a canister of nitrous oxide instantly put everyone to sleep.

Sure, installing bulletproof doors will help, but giving passengers an opportunity to defend themselves, and giving the pilot a last line of defense is even better.

Contrary to the carnage predicted by gun control advocates, states which have passed right to carry laws (allowing non-felons to carry concealed weapons) have experienced a dramatic decrease in violent crimes in metropolitan areas. This is no coincidence, and the idea of allowing passengers to fly on weapon's optional or clothing optional flights is at least worth considering. Let's remember that last line of our national anthem is a question, and if we stop jumping at shadows, the answer will continue to be "yes".

Finally, a suggestion for our military. If we know that 600 Islamic fundamentalist Elders are meeting in Afghanistan to declare a Holy War, why not launch a couple dozen Cruise missiles towards that specific destination? By having the rockets impact within a few minutes of the final votes being cast, we could help these religious zealots reach their ultimate heavenly (?) destination prematurely.

If it's worth doing right, it's worth OVER-doing.


Dale Lowdermilk

Founder, NOT-SAFE
Retired Air Traffic Controller


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To have no proud monarch driving over me with his gilt coaches; nor his host of excise-men and tax-gatherers insulting and robbing me; but to be my own master, my own prince and sovereign, gloriously preserving my national dignity, and pursuing my true happiness; planting my vineyards, and eating their luscious fruits; and sowing my fields, and reaping the golden grain: and seeing millions of brothers all around me, equally free and happy as myself. This, sir, is what I long for. -- General Francis Marion, American War of Independence, Georgetown, SC [Source: 'Marion, The Life of Gen. Francis Marion' by M. L. Weems, Ch.18]

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