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Times Article FYI



>From the Washington Times, Wednesday, September 19, 2001


Aboard Flight 564
by Peter Hannaford

As it was at most U.S. airports, last Saturday was the first near-normal day 
at Denver International since the terrorist attacks. On United's Flight 564 
the door had just been locked and the plane was about to pull out of the gate 
when the captain came on the public address system.
 
"I want to thank you brave folks for coming out today. We don't have any new 
instructions from the federal government, so from now on we're on our own." 
The passengers listened in total silence.

He explained that airport security measures had pretty much solved the 
problem of firearms being carried aboard, but not weapons of the type the 
terrorists apparently used, plastic knives or those fashioned from wood or 
ceramics.

"Sometimes a potential hijacker will announce that he has a bomb. There are 
no bombs on this aircraft and if someone were to get up and make that claim, 
don't believe him.
     
"If someone were to stand up,brandish something such as a plastic knife and 
say 'This is a hijacking' or words to that effect here is what you should do: 
Every one of you should stand up and immediately throw things at that person 
— pillows, books, magazines, eyeglasses, shoes —anything that will throw 
him 
off balance and distract his attention. If he has a confederate or two, do 
the same with them. Most important: get a blanket over him, then wrestle him 
to floor and keep him there. We'll land the plane at the nearest airport and 
the authorities will take it from there."
 
"Remember, there will be one of him and maybe a few confederates, but there 
are 200 of you. You can overwhelm them.
 
"The Declaration of Independence says 'We, the people' and that's just what 
it is when we're up in the air: we, the people, vs. would-be terrorists. I 
don't think we are going to have any such problem today or tomorrow or for a 
while, but some time down the road, it is going to happen again and I want 
you to know what to do.
  
"Now, since we're a family for the next few hours, I'll ask you to turn to 
the person next to you, introduce yourself, tell them a little about yourself 
and ask them to do the same."
 
The end of this remarkable speech brought sustained clapping from the 
passengers. He had put the matter in perspective. If only the passengers on 
those ill-fated flights last Tuesday had been given the same talk, I thought, 
they might be alive today. One group on United Flight 93, which crashed in a 
Pennsylvania field, apparently rushed the hijackers in an attempt to wrest 
control from them. While they perished, they succeeded in preventing the 
terrorist from attacking his intended goal, possibly the White House or the 
Capitol. 
 
Procedures for dealing with hijackers were conceived in a time when the 
hijackers were usually seeking the release of jailed comrades or a large 
amount of money. Mass murder was not their goal. That short talk last 
Saturday by the pilot of Flight 564 should set a new standard of realism.

Every passenger should learn the simple — but potentially life-saving — 
procedure he outlined. He showed his passengers that a hijacking does not 
have to result in hopelessness and terror, but victory over the perpetrators.

The Airline Pilots Association, the pilots' union, last week dropped its 
opposition to stronger cockpit doors and is now calling for retrofits. (It's 
opposition was based on pilot concerns about getting out easily in emergency 
situations.) The scandal of easily penetrated airport security will result in 
congressional calls for a federal takeover of the security system.
 
Previous efforts to reform security procedures and raise standards have been 
talked to death. This time, however, no lobbying efforts must be allowed to 
prevent airport security from getting the reforms that are needed: federal 
operation, rigorous training, decent pay and no foreign nationals eligible 
for employment.

Peter Hannaford is a public affairs consultant.


Skip Daum
Capitol Communications
c/o Association Headquarters
Sacramento, CA
TEL:  916- 658- 0255
FAX:  916- 658- 0252
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