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Alec Baldwin & Operation Barf Bag


Old Dec 13, 11, 12:59 pm
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Alec Baldwin & Operation Barf Bag

Up now in Patrick Smith's ASK THE PILOT...


The lowdown on PEDs and cockpit interference. Some excerpts:

"...What would interference look like? You imagine a hapless passenger hitting the SEND button when suddenly the airplane flips over or nose-dives into the ground, when in reality it's liable to be subtle and transient. The electronic architecture of a modern jetliner is vast to say the least, and most irregularities arenít exactly heart-stoppers Ė a warning flag that flickers for a moment and then goes away; a course line that briefly goes askew. Iím occasionally asked if I have ever personally witnessed cellular interference in a cockpit. Not to my knowledge, but I canít say for sure. Planes are large and complicated; minor, fleeting malfunctions of this or that component arenít uncommon, and their causes are often impossible to determine....

"....As for the restrictions pertaining to computers, iPods, and certain other devices during takeoffs and landings, this has nothing to do with electronic interference. In theory, a poorly shielded notebook computer can emit harmful energy, but the main reasons laptops need to be put away is to prevent them from becoming high-speed projectiles in the event of an impact or sudden deceleration, and from hampering an evacuation...

...In the case of iPods and the like, it's about the headphones and the ability to hear instructions. During takeoffs and landings, you need to be able to hear and follow instructions if thereís an emergency. Similar to the requirement to raise your window shades, itís in the interest of situational awareness. Excessive? Maybe, and after all flight attendants donít go around waking people up or quizzing them on evacuation procedures. But what the heck, it a slight safety enhancement that doesnít cost anything...

...The rules are confusing and confounding. It's also true that carriers have made a bad situation worse through random and sometimes contradictory enforcement of policy, and/or by enacting blanket bans on * all * devices, including those -- like noise-cancelling headphones -- that are clearly not a threat. Sure this makes the rules simpler and easier to enforce. It also encourages people to ignore or surreptitiously break them, and it nourishes people's suspicions that everything an airline tells you is a lie....

The FULL story is here:


Recently in ASK THE PILOT....

A PURSE IS A PURSE IS A PURSE. More madness from the world of airport security.

"...That's the thing with airport security and TSA, there is always something funny to write about. And in place of "something funny" you may substitute the words, "exasperating" or "troubling" or "a national embarrassment." The latest from the Department of You Can't Make This Up involves a teenage girl who was not allowed to carry a purse onto a flight in Norfolk, Virginia because it was embroidered with the design of a handgun. A ban on replica weapons makes sense. But this wasn't a replica weapon. It was * a purse. * There is nothing remotely dangerous about what is essentially a drawing of a firearm, and TSA should not be able to deny the carriage of harmless private property.

The time has come to put together what I'm calling the American Hysteria Hall of Shame, a compilation of our more ludicrous overreactions since the terror attacks of 2001. It's hard to say which incident belongs at the top, but let's not forget my personal favorite, Operation Barf Bag: In 2004, on board a United Airlines 747 flying from Sydney to Los Angeles, a discarded airsickness bag was found in a lavatory with the letters "BOB" scrawled across it. For reasons that defy explanation, somebody decided that letters stood for "Bomb On Board," and the plane went all the way back to Sydney for a precautionary landing, jettisoning thousands of gallons of fuel in the process. Never mind that there was no precedent to suspect "BOB" referred to anything aside from a person's name; we were asked to believe that terrorists would actually advertise the imminent detonation of an explosive device by means of a cryptic acronym scrawled on a barf bag...."

The FULL story is here:


Entry to Salon.com and ASK THE PILOT is always free.

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Patrick Smith
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Old Dec 13, 11, 7:06 pm
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BOB= Buy on Board, the smarties....
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