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Flying After 9/11: Your Responses

September 9, 2011 – The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is only days away and the world still debates if we are any safer or just more aware. Due to the mode of the attacks, aviation has been uniquely affected and each aviation professional, enthusiast, and recreational pilot has a personal story to tell about that day. Last week EAA asked how the attacks on 9/11 have affected your flying in the past decade and how the perception of recreational aviation among the non-aviation people around you has changed. The responses we received showed that GA is largely unchanged even if attitudes toward aviation from policymakers and the general public remain somewhat influenced by early post-9/11 concerns. 

Many responses reflected this particular sentiment from Steveinindy:

It hasn't changed. I also have not had any bad experiences with people reacting to flying other than your occasional "not in my backyard" idiot.

Thomas P. Turner: Other than the need to check for TFRs, which I think has changed my flight planning one time since 9/11/01, my flying has not changed as a result of the Sept 11th terrorist attacks.

Others, like Ray, say the increased restrictions on GA were an improper response and served to address tangential issues instead of effectively addressing security.

It has not affected my flying directly at my dirt strip private airport but they have been using the 911 and security issues to do things that are not rational and have no precedent or statistics to back up their claims of increased security risks.

Attempts at restricting things like airport homes with "Through the fence access", increased regulations for flight training, background checks for student pilots, extra airport security making casual small airport access impossible for prospective interested pilots, etc.

In a free country I am willing to assume a greater security risk (not proven) rather than inhibit and stifle access to interested folks who enjoy photographing, watching and participating in airport and aviation activities.

The reaction to 911 was more of a political reaction and posturing rather than addressing appropriate sane security measures. The Feds took full advantage of a situation and used it to installed more bureaucracy.

David Reinhart stopped flying across the border even after lobbying his congressional representative to protect GA access:

I have stopped flying internationally. Before eAPIS went into effect I had made a couple trips to Canada (Montreal and PEI). Not any more. Due to the SD for airports with scheduled air service, I avoid those airports whenever possible, even if they might be more convenient during cross-country trips.

After 9/11, our financially-pressed municipal airport had to shell out money to install higher fences with electronically controlled gates. The whole exercise was really a farce because the far side of the airport, opposite the access road is bordered by a shallow river and there is no fencing on that side.

A great deal of my time and energy has been taken up working with my congressional rep trying to get him to vote against security excesses. In general, his voting record has been good on these issues but he's out numbered.

I don't think the general public's view of GA hasn't changed much. Little airplanes are still incredibly dangerous and corporate jets are only for fat cats. People seem surprised that I actually have to get permission to leave the country if I wanted to fly to
Canada. They also seem surprised to know that I don't have to file a flight plan and be in contact with ATC every minute. I just ask them if they need permission every time they want to drive their car or boat and that seems to make them think a little bit.

But in the end flying is still irresistible, as luv2av8wi states:

Out of necessity, I guess, flying has become more of a chore, less fun, more expensive and more regulated. Inevitable I suppose, but sure is taking the unfettered joy out if just getting in the bird and going flying without a concern for tfr's, adiz airspace and $6 plus avgas. If it weren't for Young Eagles I think I might have hung up my wings by now. What's the answer? Is there one?

You can read all of the responses in the EAA Forums.

Read EAA analysis: Ten years since 9/11 — Where does GA stand?
Talking points about GA when speaking to the non-aviator

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