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Sept. 11: A Day to Remember

September 11, 2008 — This week we will remember what happened on Sept. 11, 2001. It’s hard to believe that seven years have gone by since those fateful events.

We must always remember. Those events changed the world and our view of it. It was even more impactful for all of us involved with aviation.

Even though commercial aircraft were used in those terrorist attacks, our entire aviation world was altered as never before. It brought more scrutiny on all types of flying.

Those of us involved in the 9/11 aftermath recall how close general aviation came to being permanently crippled or eliminated. It took a tremendous amount of work on many fronts to reassure federal agencies and the American public that aviation was vital, and posed no greater threat than other conveyances that are part of our way of life. I bring this up for a couple of reasons:

We must remain vigilant to ensure, as best we can, that aviation is not used in such a way again. It is natural to ease our awareness and relax our guard as time pushes the 9/11 events further into history.

Part of recreational aviation’s appeal is the sense of community that exists. We know others at our local airport. We notice things that may seem out of place. This sense of community is one of our greatest defenses, whether it is through EAA Chapters, AOPA’s Airport Watch program, or the local flying club.

If we see something that seems unusual or out of the ordinary, take the extra step and report it.

Second, although the events of 9/11 are now seven years old, the scrutiny on aviation in the U.S. remains high from federal agencies. EAA members and other aviation groups have worked very hard to make sure that unfounded burdens and security restrictions are not placed on general aviation. Gradually, we have helped lift or reduce some of the early airspace limits that were imposed in the aftermath of 9/11.

Whether we feel it is fair or unfair, every aviator carries the responsibility of protecting those freedoms with each flight by knowing and following the regulations as they now exist. This is especially true as we enter another presidential election cycle, with candidates criss-crossing the nation until November. EAA will continue to push federal officials for proper advance notification of Temporary Flight Restrictions, but pilots must also be extra-thorough to anticipate such sudden airspace changes near their flight paths.

Yes, we should always remember 9/11 – not only for the lives tragically lost, but also as why it is essential to carry out our responsibilities.

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