The Liberty Gazette
June 11, 2013Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: We enjoy sharing stories here about our favorite mode of transportation and the world about it. The aviation community is like none other, mostly made up of people with a sense of responsibility, community, honesty and integrity. Sure there are some loose cannons, as one may find in any industry, but we have found the vast majority of aviators to be a fine, upstanding lot. Imagine our collective surprise then, as news stories have begun to emerge over the past year or so, and growing in number, that regular citizens with no criminal history doing perfectly lawful things are suddenly being held at gunpoint, intimidated and threatened upon landing because – are you ready for this? Because they allegedly fit some unexplained "profile" of which about all that has been deduced is that the victim pilots were flying from west to east – inside the United States of America. That’s it.
Unbelievable, isn’t it?
This activity equates to a traffic stop where you would be detained and searched by local, state, and federal law enforcement – S.W.A.T. teams even - with no probable cause and no explanation. Let’s say you’re just driving a few states away to see family, and because you are going a certain direction, you are pulled over and faced with dozens of law enforcement officers who aren’t really enforcing any law, they’re following orders from someone to do something illegal. That’s what’s happening in the pilot world right now, unlawful restraint of citizens from moving about freely in their own country.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news – and this certainly qualifies – but if we leave it unspoken, if we just cower and hide and stay quiet, fewer people will know of the abuse, and then it will spread, as disease does when it is not treated.
Mike: A few years ago I stood at "Checkpoint Charlie" along the Berlin Wall. Most of the wall had been torn down but enough was left to serve as a reminder of what can happen if we give tyranny a pass while we watch for pretty butterflies. The sad history of that location comes to my mind when I think of these illegal actions escalating unchecked.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is supposed to protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures, requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Flying in one particular direction doesn’t give probable cause to seize and search an individual. But word from the battle field where the not-so-secret-but-denied war gluttonously swells: one pilot wasn’t going to even be allowed to call to his mother to tell her that he had made it to his destination safely. Federal agents stood around and listened in on the conversation making sure he obeyed their orders not to mention them.
While the FAA reports* aviation’s contributions of 10.2 million jobs, $14.2 trillion in value-added economic activity and $1.3 trillion in total economic activity – about 5.2% of the total U.S. GDP – as being "a vital link to economic opportunities home and abroad" evidence grows daily that the U.S. economy is under attack, and now includes targeting innocent pilots.
*The Economic Impact of Civil Aviation on the U.S. Economy, August 2011, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration