TTAG commentator savaze left this comment underneath the post OMG! A Gun! In a Carry-On! And a Knife! OMG!

“Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the fuzzie-wuzzies, at various points, made legal-to-carry-knives on planes smaller and smaller until they disappeared completely, then they took guns out of the picture as well. The reasoning behind taking them away seems trite . . .

1) Planes don’t disintegrate when they have a hole in them, it affects flight characteristics, aka drag based on the size of the hole and it’s shape. For example, we don’t commonly fly US planes to New Zealand because they have insane flight restrictions on the quality of aircraft that land at their airports, which generally require our planes to have a complete overhaul, both the engines and the airframe.

2) At the altitude commercial aircraft fly oxygen is required to not pass out and/or die… and in case of emergencies oxygen is provided for all passengers (sound familiar). The planes are kept over pressurized because they leak, yes sir they do. So if a new hole appears there is more than enough oxygen to keep everyone happy until they land, grab a FAR/AIM to see how over-regulated the aviation industry is.

3) Everyone is so close together that firing a sidearm could hit an innocent person. I’m sorry if I sound callous, but if someone(s) intending to do wrong on that plane has a weapon and no one on the plane has suitable opposition to the task (a.k.a., a gun or knife) then everyone is in trouble.

I’ve heard people argue that the Air Marshall will save the day. I’m calling BS, because if someone is going to take a plane, how much harder would it be to ID the only armed guy/gal on the plane? Maybe I’m paranoid, but I don’t think allowing the public to be armed in flight has any downsides. I think aviation disarmament is a step towards disarming the common neighborhood, because guns are scary and could hurt someone.

Gun education, in general, seems to be lacking in society. I could go on a rant about how urbanization is the cause of the problem, making both guns and animals, but this isn’t the crowd that needs to hear it.

I don’t see good things happening with the TSA, and the gun control crowd becoming so rampant. I went through three TSA checkpoints on the freeway when my wife and I went to visit family during Christmas and I don’t think it’s going to be long before they start taking away our firearms on federal roads. This whole push for our nation to become a police state doesn’t bode well for our personal freedoms, and that worries me.

I hope with the coming election that something will be done to strengthen our individual rights, including the 2nd Amendment.”

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34 Responses to “As a pilot, I don’t understand the reason why we can’t have firearms and knives on planes”

  1. First, consider that the first armed guy to pull a gun is a bad guy. You then stand up and pull yours. When the third guy pulls his, is he backing you up or is he aligned with #1. Now number 4 pulls his or hers, who is the good guy/bad guy. Now you have a couple of FAMS on board. What are they going to do with all this metal/lead in the cabin.

    As to pressurization, fuselages aren’t “over pressurized.”. They are pressurized to a specific cabin altitude commensurate with outside altitude. Pressure is maintained by an outflow valve (a big hole in the cabin shell with a butterfly valve in it that opens or closes to maintain desired cabin pressure) and by high pressure air tapped off the compressor section and cycled through cooling packs.

    • I find the “gunfight escalation” argument against armed civilians particularly specious. Do you really think that people in a life-or-death situation can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys without a scorecard? Of course, there is a group of people who regularly make that mistake: cops.

      • +1. Having spent a whole lot of time on aircraft with several heavily-armed people, I can say that our hijack rate was precisely zero.

    • And when you are at 30,000’+ MSL and the cabin pressure is at <8,000' MSL (probably closer to 2,000' MSL) what would you call that? It may not be pressurized, but it is definitely pressurized.

      • It seems like my comments are editing themselves:
        It may not be over pressurized, but it is definitely pressurized…

      • Savaze, I’m calling your pilot qualifications into question here. You’re suggesting that a transport category aircraft at 30,000+ ft will have a cabin altitude of “closer to 2,000 ft pressure alt”? That’s a mighty differential pressure on the fuselage. I don’t even think the 787 is going to maintain that.

        2,000 ft cabin altitude at 30,000 ft is a differential pressure of 9.3 psi. Most transport category aircraft are limited to ~8 psi which would put the cabin alt around 4,700.

        • How did we get to a cargo transport when we’ve been talking about passenger aircraft? You’re diverting and redirecting…

        • We didn’t get to cargo transport. Transport Category aircraft are things like 737, A320, 747, etc.

          Categories, with respect to the certification of aircraft, include Transport, Normal, Utility, Acrobatic, Limited, Restricted, and Provisional. A Cessna 172 is certificated for Normal and Utility based on how it’s loaded. A Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, or Canadair product that operates in airline service is certificated in the Transport category. It doesn’t matter if it’s people or boxes being carried inside.

          But, you would have learned all this when you got your Private Pilot license. I think I’ve made my point.

        • You can question my credentials all you want, but I have a CPL and ATP in rotary and fixed-wing with a box full of log books to prove it (with a larger balance of hours in rotary) and a shiny green ID, and as of ’06 I’m retired from everything, especially flying since I can’t get a medical due to the injuries I took in the Army (not even a probationary). I may only sleep a couple of times a week and my memory plays tricks on me, but it doesn’t diminish the experiences I have. So if you don’t know what I’m talking about move along.

        • Sorry, man. If you’ve done more helo stuff that would make sense. When I was instructing, I had a Marine Chinook pilot come through to get his fixed-wing ATP since he was retiring and he didn’t know squat about fixed-wing aircraft. It took us a few days of some intensive ground school to get him up to speed on everything he needed to know but he did great on his checkride. That guy was easily one of the most fun guys I ever flew with.

          I apologize for the accusation.

        • It’s alright and sorry for going rabid on you. My Neurologist tells me sleep deprivation is like being drunk, I wouldn’t know, but it makes me go from 0 to a 100 real quick. I went through civilian flight school years ago and offered those skills to the Army later in life, just making the age cut, I just have horrible recall now – which has earned me the name of memory man from my wife. I did teach military flight school and can tell you a ton about the huge divide in knowledge and skill between the two, and how scary it is to see military pilots graduate flight school with little grasp of the basics and usually minimal understanding of the principles, but they memorized an encyclopedia of half truths rewritten seemingly by every instructor to walk through the door (who had a similar comprehension level as their now-students). Tax dollars at work and the genius’s behind it! The military is now getting more civilian instructors to try and turn that around, but that’s another tale…

  2. “Gun education, in general, seems to be lacking in society. I could go on a rant about how urbanization is the cause of the problem, making both guns and animals*, but this isn’t the crowd that needs to hear it.”
    *Insert scary after animals. I’ve been peeling and cutting garlic all day for carnitas and I blame it on that.

  3. “how much harder would it be to ID the only armed guy/gal on the plane?”
    That is right. I can spot the air marshal as the guy with the crew cut sitting in the back watching me as I scope out the other passengers.

        • I think Bill C is suggesting that if you’re looking for visible cues to pick out the good guys (by which I presume you have defined as FAMs), then you won’t be able to.

          There was a day when the FAMs were required to keep “a certain look”. The initial head of their agency came out of the Secret Service, and maintaining “that certain look” was automatic for him. However, those days have passed, and today, the FAMs work very hard to avoid looking like “the guy in a crew cut”.

  4. As a passenger (victim) I don’t know why I can’t carry. I’ve got more experience shooting than most pilots have. Also, I’m better looking and much nicer in an all-around way!

    • Because air marshals are simply better people than you or me. If you read the article RF took the picture from:
      http://nakedlaw.avvo.com/2010/04/federal-air-marshal-program-useless/
      “Yesterday a federal air marshal restrained a man who reportedly tried to set his shoes on fire. The man was an ambassador for Qatar with full diplomatic immunity.

      As details trickle out, it appears this story may be more of a man getting caught smoking in the bathroom than attempted terrorism. Nonetheless, it is bringing a bit of attention to the Federal Air Marshal program.

      The congressman, in a release on his website, homed in on the fact that only four arrests were made last year, which comes out to be around $200 million per arrest. He also notes that more air marshals were arrested than people arrested by air marshals.”

    • “I’ve got more experience shooting than most pilots have.”

      Maybe, but I (and any other FFDO) have more experience training to shoot in an enclosed fuselage and inside a cockpit.

      Further, reading about the various IGOTGs, I cringe to think about a couple of those in the cabin, or some of the “experienced” guys I see (and avoid) shooting at the range.

      • The whole idea of arming more people to offset the bad guys who may have guns is ludicrous. Bill makes a good point. You’d have to have a much higher percentage of fit and responsible gun owners to unfit and irresponsible ones to make that work.

        That dawg won’t hunt.

        • “You’d have to have a much higher percentage of fit and responsible gun owners to unfit and irresponsible ones to make that work.”
          —–
          We already do. You just ignore that fact because if you don’t, your entire argument falls apart.

        • I think that’s exactly what you do. We’re haggling over what the percentage of unfit gunowners is, which of course necessitates a discussion of what constitutes “unfit.”

          We’ll never come to agreement, but that’s what we’re arguing about. For you to keep disparaging my side of the argument as irrelevant is just smoke blowing on your part.

        • If disparaging your side of the argument makes you feel irrelevant, I guess that would be “mission accomplished”.

  5. Does anyone know how this already plays out on other mass transit type situations? I never hear about greyhoud bus/Amtrak/ferry/subway shootouts where ccw’ers ended up killing each other to death because nobody knew who the badguys were.

    A lot of the worries people posted here are exactly the same arguments used by the anti gun crowd.

  6. All I can say is let’s retroactively induct the passengers of Flite 93 into the Armed Forces and award them all the MOH.

  7. Thanks RF for posting this and for fixing my punctuation and grammar (I went to public school)…

    My wife actually doesn’t agree with me that people should be packing heat on planes. Her only concern being that if a gun is fired in flight that the round could disable something vital for flight. That brings up the other topic I forgot to mention before, everything’s redundant, even the pilots are a redundancy to the computers, that’s why I prefer flying helicopters, but that another story. If something vital to the engines fails the plane is still in the air and capable of landing. I’m not talking about single engine planes that are as light as can be, I’m talking about the ~90-200 ton, 200 passenger behemoth. 85% of flying is emergency procedures and preparedness for an emergency and it would take more than a bullet to bring one down.

  8. Kind of moving away from the original topic here, but I really want to see/know more on the TSA highway checkpoints. Does anyone have photos or video of them stopping passenger traffic? Would be good to spread more of that around.

  9. I just figured that they banned guns not because of the “holes in the cabin” but to cut back on hijackings to Cuba.

    • That’s true. Our Flight Operations Manual used to have a few choice Spanish phrases to tell your hijackers such as, “This plane doesn’t have enough fuel to make it to Cuba.”

      They have been removed since 9/11 because we’re not going to chit-chat with any hijackers anymore.

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