Ever since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 — where ordinary box cutters were used to kill pilots and overtake the cockpits of four airplanes during their flights — I have always thought that virtually anything can be used as a weapon aboard a commercial aircraft.
Evan Booth apparently had similar thoughts. The difference between Booth and I is that he actually demonstrated what he thought by converting actual ordinary items into potentially lethal weapons — something I had no desire to ever attempt to prove.
FlyerTalk member skwashd first discovered a weapon created by Booth called BLUNDERBUSSness Class with items — including but not limited to a hair dryer, magazines, a condom, a can of energy drink, batteries, tape, a refrigerator magnet clip, body spray, and dental floss — which could be purchased after passing through an airport security checkpoint.
Booth then created CERRSBERR — a crossbow constructed from such items as an umbrella and a luggage handle — and MURICA, which uses such materials as a copy of the Constitution of the United States and a pencil sharpener in the shape of the Washington Monument. Both “weapons” are constructed with many of the same materials used in the construction of BLUNDERBUSSness Class.
These “weapons” apparently earned Booth an unannounced visit from the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States — prompting FlyerTalk member beofotch to ask: “Is he a Patriot or a Villian?”
It is important to note that Booth disclaims the following:
“All Terminal Cornucopia weapons were constructed in a lab. At no point were any weapons built, handled, or transported in or near an airport.
“Because the findings of this research (thus far) are arguably common sense, it is in this researcher’s opinion that they fall outside of the purview of Responsible Disclosure. That said, all findings have been reported to the proper authorities, whom were granted the option of establishing a timeline for remediation and/or disclosure. No instructions have been given to that end.
“Don’t break the law. Don’t build weapons if you don’t know how to do it safely. Don’t be stupid.”
I always thought of myself as creative — but not in this particular case. My thoughts were that a passenger could sharpen a pencil to a point that it in and of itself could be used as a potential weapon. The same could be said about plastic cutlery. That Washington Monument pencil sharpener sure looked like it could be potentially dangerous in the wrong hands.
The Transportation Security Administration has typically overreacted to stunts like this in the past. For example, Richard Reid — known infamously as the Shoe Bomber — attempted to blow up a commercial aircraft operating as American Airlines flight 63 from Paris to Miami on December 22, 2001. The eventual response by the Transportation Security Administration was to require that all passengers remove their shoes before being screened at airport security checkpoints and a secondary screening awaited passengers who refused — a policy I always thought was ridiculous. FlyerTalk members generally agree, calling the policy the shoe carnival, which they have wanted to end for years — despite the perception that some airports actually implement the policy better than others.
The liquid ban was derived from the fear of terrorists being able to mix otherwise harmless liquid ingredients aboard an airplane into some explosive bomb. You cannot even bring a bottle of water through an airport security checkpoint. FlyerTalk members have been wanting for the liquid ban to be repealed for years. Although at one point passengers were not allowed to carry liquids aboard commercial aircraft at all — liquids could only be carried in checked luggage — the ban was revised in September of 2006 to allow passengers to carry travel-sizes toiletries three ounces or less which fit comfortably in one quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag through airport security checkpoints in the United States.
What are the chances of the Transportation Security Administration overreacting to the “weapons” invented by Booth? Is it time to heavily restrict what vendors at airports can sell — or perhaps shut down those vendors altogether?
I obviously do not believe that for a second — but you never know with the Transportation Security Administration…