Increasing Number of Pilots Carrying Guns on the Airplane

By: Christina Vitale Email
By: Christina Vitale Email

Passengers are not allowed to bring weapons or knives through security checkpoints at airports, but one thing they may not know is that there are already weapons on board.

Because of 9/11 the president passed a law in 2003, allowing pilots, navigators, and flight engineers to carry firearms on board. Recent statistics show more and more pilots are arming themselves. That's a concern for some frequent fliers like Mark Neimeiser.

"I just want to make sure that if people are going to have that firepower that we make sure that they are not only qualified to do it, but they have the right make up to make the decision of whether or not to use it," he said.

Crew members who choose to become Flight Deck Officers must undergo intense training. Then the officers can wear their gun in a holster while in the cockpit.

Joanna Kennedy likes thinks the latest security measure will help keep her safer.

"Especially since 9/11 I think that people are afraid and knowing that you have individuals on board to protect the people that are flying is a good thing."

Two years ago about 3,000 pilots were armed. That number has more than doubled. Now 8,000 pilots are Federal Flight Deck Officers. Tallahassee Regional Airport officials say many of these armed crew members pass through Tallahassee.

Pam Ricco considers herself a frequent flier.

"God forbid anything happens again like in 2001, but it could happen anywhere. It's not just a phenomenon that's going to happen at a big airport or in big city."

Many hope the increased security will keep the nation and Tallahassee stay out of harms way.

Crew members go through six days of intense training to become certified Flight Deck Officers.


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