This week, I’d like to discuss an area some of us love to hate: The security around GA airports.
First, let me say that regardless of how you feel about GA being painted as a terrorist tool, TSA and other government agencies are convinced there is potential. We must be vigilant around the airports and prevent the unauthorized use of light GA aircraft. AOPA’s Airport Watch is an excellent refresher.
There are some simple things we could do to make it much harder to steal an aircraft. The door locks and ignition keys are a start but if you’d really like to immobilize the hardware there are three obvious ways.
1. Use a Prop lock
2. Use a throttle lock
3. Use a Boot Chock
Prop locks and boot chocks are visible and relatively cheap. Visible is good because it deters the bad guys. Cheap is good obviously but the prop lock has two significant downsides. It can damage the prop while being installed or removed and if you ever forget to remove it and try to start the engine —- Big Ouch!!!!! Unlike failing to remove cowl intake covers, which usually just get tossed 30 feet in the air to the amusement of bystanders, the prop lock will do severe damage in the event of an attempted start.
The boot can be forgotten on the preflight and while it won’t do any damage, you’re also not going anywhere until the engine has been shut down, the boot removed and start reaccomplished. I’ve never forgotten chocks – ever –much.
My favorite security device is the throttle lock. It’s much lighter than either of the other two so it can be carried without penalty and you won’t start the engine or cause any damage until it’s removed. It’s not as visible but is highly effective. I’d sure like to see the aircraft manufacturers start building throttle lock or locking control locks into new aircraft. Sad to say but the security problem is not going away soon so let’s be intelligent about thwarting the one in 10 million probability (WAG) that someone is going to steal an aircraft for nefarious purposes.