Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Safer Skies

I apologize to the dedicated readers for my sparse posts this past month. I've actually been in a 12 step program for TCS, Time Compression Syndrome. This condition is manifested by cramming too many events into a time frame which, when viewed by normal people, is obviously impossible to meet. I entered treatment after an intervention by the VOR, GurneyGranny, and BessemerConvivialist. I made a major breakthrough this weekend when I was able to pass on the Book Across the Bay, one of my favorite ski races in Ashland, WI, rather than ski the race, drink pitchers of beer at Patsy's Bar post race, and then get up early to drive 4 hours for a 1pm flight to Philadelphia. I had a brief relapse when I double scheduled the JillLeah Loppet ski event and a BB King/Buddy Guy concert, but that actually came off quite nicely. Another blip in the recovery occurred when I went in to work Sunday morning to get a couple things taken care of and wound up skiing a bit too long at Gross Golf Course on the way home, causing some Philly Phlight angst. Once again, all was well, we made our flight, and I feel I'm on the road to defeating this condition and living a normal and productive life.

We didn't want to fly to Philadelphia but it was the closest reasonable spot to get to Atlantic City, NJ, where the VOR and I were attending the graduation of a very close acquaintance (identity top secret, of course) from Federal Air Marshall training. We spent Monday morning touring the training facility with the fiance' of the new Air Marshall. They put the trainees through some rigorous, focused, and pretty intensive training. In addition to actual jets to train on, they have simulated aircraft scenarios, a very well equipped physical training facility, and a state of the art shooting range. Plus they apparently beat on one another a lot. In one simulation an Air Marshall subdued a drunk who had shoved a stewardess. One smart ass suggested that acting in such scenarios could be a great retirement career for me but I chose to ignore the comment. They also simulated defeating a terrorist hijack attempt. These folks really know how to shoot and handle their weapons. One of the graduation speakers told us that the marksmanship standards for Air Marshall's is one of the highest in Federal service and I believe it from watching the demos that they showed us. My acquaintance was recognized as an expert marksman at the graduation, not surprising since he has been shooting since age 5 when his old man put a politically incorrect BB gun (you'll shoot your eye out!) into his hands and instructed him in a makeshift basement range. The ceremony was well done, the facility tour was a bonus, and the group of men and women graduating made us feel pretty good about airline security on the ground floor tactical level.

Part of the Federal Air Marshall's mission statement is, "to detect, deter, and defeat terrorist and other criminal hostile acts targeting US air carriers, airports, passengers, crew, and when necessary, other transportation modes within the Nation's general transportation systems". From the looks of this graduating class it would appear that the tactical focus on this mission is most definitely on the right track.


Jeremiah Johnstone said...

Wow, those flight attendent's head's looked weird. I hope we can experience friendlier skies now. JJ

Silbs said...

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for a look into that world.