Sky Posse

Counter-terrorist vigilantes, or people just trying to make flying safer?

The Sky Posse is an organization, not affiliated with anyone official, of people who vow to fight back in the event of an airplane hijacking. Members wear cool-looking pins, made to resemble a Western sheriff’s badge, with the slogan “Ready to Roll.”

Kind of silly, but I guess there’s no harm.

Posted on November 11, 2005 at 3:42 PM50 Comments


Joe Buck November 11, 2005 4:00 PM

This isn’t particularly relevant. Passengers learned to fight back by the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and the bad guys haven’t attempted to repeat hijackings. Instead, they’ve gone after crowded spaces, like train stations, markets, and big hotels. If they do try to take a plane as a weapon again, they’ll probably go after a cargo plane, so there aren’t as many people they have to overpower and control.

This is just another case of preparing for the last attack.

mpd November 11, 2005 4:22 PM

I foresee a lot of flying Barney Fifes. While not dangerous, they could make flying even more uncomfortable and annoying than it already is.

“But post 9/11, the American public knows now that if they don’t stand and fight, they will undoubtedly die.”
This kind of thinking sounds kind of dangerous to me. Before 9/11, how many people died during hijackings? If you hear about someone getting shot during a mugging, are you undoubtably going to get shot if you’re mugged? Is it safer to fight the mugger?

Seb November 11, 2005 4:43 PM

@ mpd

“If you hear about someone getting shot during a mugging, are you undoubtably going to get shot if you’re mugged? Is it safer to fight the mugger?”

Not all muggers are going to shoot you (in fact very little). Admittedly, not all airplane hijackers are going to fly it into a skyscraper… however, your chances of dying are much higher.

// Seb

Jeweller November 11, 2005 5:51 PM

The Sky Posse is an organization, not affiliated with anyone official, of people who vow to fight back in the event of an airplane hijacking. Members wear cool-looking pins, made to resemble a Western sheriff’s badge, with the slogan “Ready to Roll.”

William November 11, 2005 5:57 PM

Looks to me like just a way to make money. It’s all about buying a $10 badge that costs $1 to manufacture and ship. The “how to join” page just tells people to buy a badge, that’s all these guys care about. Got to give them credit for the idea, I guess. Some people will buy as a gag. Others will buy because they buy this self-defense crap. Doesn’t matter, the guy behind the site still makes $9 in either case.

Saar Drimer November 11, 2005 6:11 PM

“Trigger happy” citizens on planes just looking to fulfil their commitment does sound a bit harmful to me.

A few days ago an El-Al passenger on a flight to Bulgaria started taking his clothes off, shouting and hurting passengers around him mid flight (he wasn’t too happy about being deported from Israel)… the flight attendants jumped on him and dragged him to the lavatory and locked him up until they landed in Hungary. No one was seriously hurt.,7340,L-3166830,00.html
(couldn’t find English source.)

I’m not sure how one of those “Sky Posse” folk would react. Probably make things worse!

Sun Tzu November 11, 2005 6:34 PM

Art of War – Chapter I:

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

Chris Walsh November 11, 2005 6:34 PM

Interesting concept.

According to their own web site, Sky Posse believes that “the American public knows now that if they don’t stand and fight, they will undoubtedly die”.

If this is true[*], then surely “the evildoers” know it already. Therefore, the badge is utterly unnecessary. It is, in essence, a badge that says “Caution: wearer will resist being murdered”. Who wouldn’t??

  • A mighty big if.

Sen Boyer November 11, 2005 6:42 PM

Yeah, I bet it’s the Sky Posse folks that will be crying in the bathroom if something bad actually happens.

Benjamin November 11, 2005 7:13 PM

It is, in essence, a badge that says “Caution: wearer will resist being murdered”.

This sounds like a great marketing opportunity.

Labrador November 11, 2005 9:40 PM

“Yeah, I bet it’s the Sky Posse folks that will be crying in the bathroom if something bad actually happens.”

That seems unnecessarily mocking in tone and detached from the way a lot of people think. It’s almost like a parody of what someone from NY or SF would say about flyover people. Would you say the same thing about people with concealed handgun permits?

Dale Underwood November 11, 2005 11:01 PM

In a “normal” hijacking situation where there are trained negotiators and Special Forces Units available that have been trained to storm airplanes and take out the hijackers with the least amount of civilian deaths having these people getting in the way could cost a lot of people there lives.

In the case of hijackings like 911 they could possibly be of some assistance in that there would be a body of people that have gone through some mental preperation in realising that any action they take will in all eventuality get them killed. I think it would be some what like a person who knows how to turn on there PC and use MS Office Suite but nothing else about PCs trying to fix his friends PC that has virus, trojans, spyware and a Sony Root Kit thrown in for good measure. He may get lucky and fix something out of sheer luck but the biggest probability is that they will mess it up even worse and get in the way of a knowledgeable technician. But probably better than crashing into a hard object at great speed.

An entertaining idea to toy with but not very practical to my way of thinking.

Counter-terrorist vigilantes, or people just trying to make flying safer?

The Sky Posse is an organization, not affiliated with anyone official, of people who vow to fight back in the event of an airplane hijacking. Members wear cool-looking pins, made to resemble a Western sheriff’s badge, with the slogan “Ready to Roll.”

Kind of silly, but I guess there’s no harm.

g November 12, 2005 4:39 AM

I would feel appreciably less safe on a plane if there were members of this “Sky Posse” in evidence.

Do they get a secret decoder ring as well as the badge?

goldilox November 12, 2005 11:12 AM

They’d wanna be damn quick. I’m guessing that the next ‘plane that gets hijacked in US airspace will be shot down within a very few minutes. Or destroyed by a remotely activated onboard device if the Feds have thought this through to the obvious Machiavellian conclusion.

Probitas November 12, 2005 11:53 AM

I think that the Sky Posse will keep America every bit as safe as the little ribbon shaped magnets you can buy at the convenience mart to stick on your car. Then we can all feel as though we are doing our part.

I am feeling all warm and fuzzy already.

Unixronin November 12, 2005 1:11 PM

“If you hear about someone getting shot during a mugging, are you undoubtably going to get shot if you’re mugged? Is it safer to fight the mugger?”

As a matter of fact, since you ask …. yes. The National Institute of Justice conducted a detailed study some years back. It found that your options in a mugging, in order of increasing likelihood of being injured, are roughly the following:

  • resist with a gun
  • resist witha knife or other weapon
  • resist with bare hands
  • don’t resist at all

Neighborcat November 12, 2005 2:50 PM

More swaggering bravado after the fact, signifying nothing.

I take that back, it does signify something about the person who would purchase and wear such an item. I’ve often wished more assholes would wear signs, thus saving me the trouble of discovering them myself.

The “Reasons for Joining” section on the website shows the reason why this is a foolish idea: It encourages self-appointed “terrorist fighters” to start trouble on planes if a fellow passenger isn’t meeting their ill-considered criteria for security.

On the other hand, I heartily applaud the founder of the “organization” for devising yet another means of parting fools from their money. It would be the height of irony if Al Qaeda was behind it.


Bruce Schneier November 13, 2005 11:48 AM

“So the pin will tell terrorists who to ‘disarm’ first?”

I think the pin is designed to tell flight attendents who to be extra nice to. Not sure if that will work, though.

Depends on whether or not the airlines think the whole thing is silly, too.

Bill McGonigle November 13, 2005 4:49 PM

I’ll say it again – if we want to defend against airline hijackers make Kung Fu mandatory for high school students in lieu of badminton. Given a generation there will be no hijackable airplane.

David Harper November 14, 2005 3:30 AM

Some years ago, my wife and I were on a Northwest Airlines flight from London to Minneapolis. The flight was late departing London because a group of passengers had to be dragged away from the airport bar and persuaded to board the plane.

Things got worse once we were in the air: the cabin crew refused to serve alcohol to this group, because they were already pretty much soused. So the adults sent the kids to raid the galley for miniature bottles of hard liquor, and started lighting up cigarettes. This was a non-smoking flight.

The cabin crew were having a hard time because the group were becoming rowdy and threatening violence. Eventually, the captain was summoned to impose his authority, and one of the guys swung a punch at him.

Punching the captain is something you do NOT do. A few moments later, several very large men came back from business class and overpowered the guy who had swung the punch. Two of them picked him up and carried him away.

It turns out that the U.S. Olympic wrestling team was on our flight, and they restored order very effectively. There was no further trouble during the flight.

So my advice is: don’t mess with lapel pins. Fly with the U.S. Olympic wrestling team instead.

Bernhard November 14, 2005 4:36 AM

I think it is very telling that “Posse” is also the German word for a farce or ridiculous action.

I think there guys make flight less safe. In any case, they will be the first victims of any hijackers willing to take lives.

Bad Idea.

loser November 14, 2005 10:32 AM

the part of the idea that is worthy of some thought is distributing responsability and vigilance to a larger group. safety in numbers.

Ed T. November 14, 2005 11:23 AM

First of all: I don’t think these “Sky Pussies”… errr, “Sky Posses” will be allowed to carry arms (other than the two organic ones they were born with, or any artificial replacements) on board an aircraft.

Second: if the terrorists decide to slash their throats first, so much the better — maybe the sky marshalls will have enough time to deal with them.


Anonymous November 14, 2005 11:33 AM

That’s exactly who I want to be flying with: yahoos wearing tin badges who think about how to kill people with pens and who practice being suspicious of brown people.

Sorry, I’ll take death from freedom fighters/terrorists anyday as long as the airlines learn how to build cockpits that can be, you know, somewhat /secured/ against intrusion. When airplanes can no longer be easily used as missiles, and we are back to being simple hostages, the whole point of hijacking goes back to being less attractive to such people. Look people, I don’t have such an inflated ego that I think I, or any single person (including the cute flight attendants) are somehow worth more than a building full of people. We should secure airplanes full of kerosene against childish jihad, but make it easy for most of us to just damn well get to our destination.

“Sky Posse.” Jesus, what a bunch of dick-waving idiots.

Davi Ottenheimer November 14, 2005 8:29 PM

@ David Harper

Good story. Today the theory is that a pilot (and passengers) would more likely have an Air Marshal on board than the wrestling team.

Of course the Air Marshals do not wear anything to distinguish themselves.

Instead of the tin badges, I think these folks should just take to wearing giant bright-white cowboy hats and pointy toed black boots. In fact they should carry a “horsie” with them on board the plane and walk with a certain patriotic swagger. That’ll really show them commies, I mean terror-cells…

roofclimber November 14, 2005 9:07 PM

Seen a lot of postings on this site, some totally idiotic, some with merit. First, and foremost, we are dealing with cowards here! Not soldiers willing to fight soldiers, but pig worshipping cowards who declare victory by killing innocent civilians: businesspeople, women, & children. Second, these idiots have been holding a grudge against Christians for 800 years! They are patient! Yes they used civilian airliners to attack in 2001. Some people say they will not do that again because we are “on to them them.” They are playing you for fools! They’ve waited 800 fucking years to get even and we have become complacient only 4 years after they attacked our homeland. They are waiting for us to let down our guard and do it again! They did it to the World Trade Center once in 1993, waited for our fears to go away and hit us again in 2001 when we were at our gullible low! These people are not stupid and they are playing us for fools! They will wait for us to let our guard down, then they will, in a coordinated attack, commandeer multiple civilian airliners and hit us where it hurts again. If for nothing else, but to prove they outwaited the U.S. attention span. It will not be pretty!
These savages know nothing but force! If we let our guard down, they will attack! But bear in mind, they are not just cowards, they are stupid cowards! A battleship off their coast scares the shit out of them. A nuclear submarine, hidden under the waves, that can deliver 10,000 times the firepower of a battleship means nothing to them because they can’t see it. Morons! They read the Koran, a book of peace, and conjur it into a book of hate. These animals know no human logic, they are rabid dogs and we Americans are playing into their hands. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fucking idiot. Remember, they are still pissed off over the crusades that took place 800 years ago! They are nuts with no regard for human life, let alone their own. They back down to nothing less than visible force and that’s what I see Sky Posse is all about! A plane load of people wearing a visible sign of resistance is as good as a fleet of battleships off Mecca ready to blow the place to hell. They won’t move because, deep down, they’re fucking cowards who are only willing to blow theselves up anonimously with innocent (and unarmed) civilians rather than dying like true soldiers, fighting other soldiers. We are dealing with a culture that has held a grudge for close to a thousand years. They are patient and they will wait us out. And when our guards are down, they will hit us again. Maybe then we will learn, but hopefully, they will be disuaded by AMERICANs who are displaying visible symbols, such as Sky Posse, that we will fight back!

Ed T. November 15, 2005 6:27 AM

“…a fleet of battleships off Mecca ready to blow the place…” — interesting, I thought battleships were water-based craft. Maybe there is a new type of s00pur sekkrit 3133T “walking battleships” that the aliens have been hiding from us 😉


@roofclimber, did you forget to take your meds? Seriously, calm down before you pop a blood vessel d00d!

Ed T. November 15, 2005 6:31 AM

Oh, and I just heard that a bunch of teen-age girls have started a group called “Mall Posse”, they are going to patrol the shopping malls and have pledged to “take action” if AQ shows up and tries to do Bad Things 😉


Jim November 15, 2005 7:47 AM

Great comments. We really are trying to make a difference. There are holes in the current system. Our message and intent is simple.

Neighborhood Watch for the Sky


We can never forget the heroes who died on 9/11. In the spirit of the heroes of Flight 93 who fought back, Sky Posse is a means of demonstrating a visible symbol that you are one American who will fight back.

The key benefit we collectively deliver is deterrence. The existence, growth and visible presence of Sky Posse on planes and in airports will be a powerful deterrent to anyone planning a 9/11 style attack.

TSA, airline crews, the government and many others are focused on air safety. Unfortunately, the chaos caused by acts of terrorism can not be controlled or resolved by central government. We are all responsible for airline safety. It is a team effort and you can help.

Consider joining and tell a friend.

Jim November 15, 2005 10:05 AM

The response has been somewhat overwhelming. I agree this is not for everyone, but many people from many walks of life are joining.

Here’s what are members are saying:

“I find it very comforting to know that there are passengers like you behind me.???
Pilot – NWA

“We applaud your passion and concern for the safety of our passengers.???
Executive – AMR

“Thanks for your remarkable support for the guys who fought aboard Flight 93.???
Mother of a Hero

“Great idea! My pin goes where I go. I’ll keep talking about the website in my travels.??? Executive – USDOJ

Our family “would like to extend our thanks to you for honoring all the heroic passengers on Flight 93 and for your continued support to the legacy they left behind.
Thank you for still caring and for still remembering.???
Sister of a Hero

Davi Ottenheimer November 15, 2005 12:51 PM

@ Jim

No one is arguing with the need for empathy and compassion. But buying small trinkets and saying “kill the enemy” is a far cry from compassion for victims, no?

I see no deterrence effect. For example, what’s to stop one of the enemy from buying a trinket themselves and totally confusing the untrained posse, causing it to implode and attack itself?

Moreover, how does differentiating yourself from others with such a shallow symbol benefit someone more than traditional acts of compassion (e.g. the Good Samaritain). It seems to me that if the Sky Posse taught CPR, disaster response, self-defense, etc. then I could see the “passion and concern for the safety of our passengers”. But instead I just see people trying to sell me something that doesn’t make me safer and is for-profit. No real harm, I agree, but no real benefit compared to more compassionate activities which are less likely to fuel the “kill the bastards” itchy-trigger-finger-wannabe’s like roofclimber.

And at the end of the day, I have to wonder what is wrong with the American Flag? Doesn’t that represent everything that your badge is supposed to?

Incidentally, you say “Sky Posse is making donations to the Flight 93 National Memorial”. What percentage of profits are donated? And who really makes the badges you sell? Prisoners in Iraq? Forced laborers in China?

Maybe I’m just jaded but the last “Posse” I remember in the US was the Posse Comitatus, which had a brief run terrorising innocent Amercians for not belonging to a particularly militant and racist version of how the country should be run…

Frank McGowan November 15, 2005 2:26 PM

OK; it’s easy to make fun of these guys, BUT there have been several instances of passengers using those stupid little plastic airline “trays” (the last ones I saw were about 5″x8″) to subdue people like the “shoe bomber.”

Prior to 2001.09.11, the official policy fo the FAA and the airlines was – if the plane is hijacked, sit down, shut up, attract no attention to yourself and you’ll get to your destination, just later than you planned. Essentially, invoke the mercy of the guys that have just said they’ll kill you for not following instructions instantly and exactly.

It never made any sense to me.

The Flight 93 passengers saw the fallacy of the “reasoning” implied in throwing yourself at the mercy of those who intend to kill you anyway.

The “Sky Posse” group, their name and pin are easy to ridicule, but if they mean what they say and follow through in the crunch, any of us may have reason to thank them on a future flight to see family.

So, most of you need to grow up and actually THINK about the situation implicit in the original article instead of posturing as superior intellects and making fun of people who have stated the intent to resist.

By the way, the Crusades lasted 200 years and ended 800 years ago… Muslims didn’t like Christians even before the Crusades…

Yes, “roofclimber” probably should take a Valium and read the Q’uran – but in the main he’s right.

Anonymous November 16, 2005 7:24 AM


These people are there to be made fun of.

If you are intent upon frustrating a hijack/bomb attempt, the last thing you want to do is wear a lapel badge to advertise the fact.

In my experience, the cretins who would buy such a badge are exactly the sorts to be pissing themselves in their seats whilst bare lapelled altruistic individuals deal with the problem. If I was a Flight 93 hero, I’d be turning in my grave about someone turning a desultory buck in my name selling sheriff badges.

But the whole idea is completely flawed anyway. After 9/11, potential hijacker / bombers know that passengers will attempt to stop them. Knowing this, they will either do something else entirely (most likey, they don’t seem to be thick), or the plan will incorporate means to overcome passengers. The whole 9/11 thing depended upon prior assumptions about hijacking, that the perpetrators probably have much more awareness of than some petty entrepreneur badge maker.

Ronnie W. November 18, 2005 5:14 PM

Sorry to disillusion all you desktop philosophers, but Roofclimber’s right! The problem is, unless you’ve been in Iraq or Afghanistan and been charged by a 10 man suicide squad sent out to probe your perimeter, you guys haven’t got a clue what he’s talking about! They know they’re all going to be cut in half by an M2 but they don’t care. Their lives mean nothing to them and American lives mean even less. They know we Americans have a short attention span and will soon tire of our war. The dissent of Vietnam serves as their model. We will vote in another American president who will bring us home from the front, the ACLU will have all of our safeguards repealed due to constitutional violations, and they will hit us at home again…..HARD. I’ve interrogated prisoners over there that have told me straight out. These people hate us! They can’t wait for the troops to go home so they can rededicate their efforts to killing us at home. They view our presence as a temporary distraction. Right now we’ve brought the war onto their turf and they can’t stand it. The ones planting the IEDs aren’t Iraqis. They’re foreigners who have slipped across the boarder from Syria (our friend?) to drive us create enough attrition to turn the political tide. The Iraqis are tired of the violence. They want us out, but at the same time are afraid for us to leave. We are playing right into their hands. I look at the President’s approval rating going into the toilet and it scares the hell out of me. Not for me but for my wife and kids because as soon as I am home, I’m not the target, they are.

Roofclimber is right! The only way to keep these nuts at bay is to form grass root organizations at home that are always on the alert and are willing to intercede. They are still going to blow us up. We can’t stop them. The world is too free and open. We think we’re stopping them now and they are laughing at our arrogance. SkyPosse won’t stop them either, but it’s a grass roots rise up against them that send them a signal and will slow them down.

So joke all you want. You sit there behind your keyboards and make all the fun you want. I applaud SkyPosse’s efforts. Come over to Iraq for a year or two, then see if you think the concept is laughable.

Ronnie W.

By the way, I ran across someone named Roofclimber over here. Got to be the same guy.
FYI, one of the best God-damned snipers we’ve got. Our squad got into trouble a couple of months ago and he appeared on a rooftop out of nowhere and started taking heads off bad guys with his Barrett at 1,500 meters. Word is, he bets with his spotter as to which eye/ear he’s going to hit.
Roofclimber, if you read this, THANKS….BIG TIME!

Jim November 18, 2005 9:53 PM

Thanks Ronnie. I appreciate a real life point of view on the subject of patriotic, grass roots efforts to secure our family and freedom. Tell a friend about Sky Posse and safe travel …..always.

Peter November 20, 2005 7:36 AM

Hey roofclimber & Ronnie, has it occurred to you that if a terrorist is willing to die in a plane crash, they aren’t likely to be dissuaded by a passenger with a pin? This is a really bad idea. The last thing we need on the 99.999% of flights that aren’t hijacked is a plane full of “trigger happy” passengers.

Jim November 21, 2005 5:21 AM

Peter – What are you going to do if you are on the flight they pick to hyjack? We pray it never happens, but if you fly, you go through the same thought pattern that we all do. Pin or not, would you fight back?

Monica Key Lindbergh January 15, 2006 10:06 PM

we need to show the world that we do stand united in GOD.
God bless those that help show the world we do stand united.
Charles Lindbergh’s great granddaughter
C/Msgt U.S.A.F. Aux.

Buz January 25, 2006 6:27 AM

Drive and see the country. Fly and miss everything. This will take this blog from the air to the ground, and will do 2 things; 1. It will make flying safer if you choose, by bankrupting all but the best airlines. 2. Sights and sounds of a lifetime will be in your memories forever.

FrankD in Boston January 21, 2008 1:03 AM

I’d just like to thanks the people who captured the SHOEBOMBER and especially the guy who punched him in the face.

I guess they (whomever) took their names off of the internet to save them from hassles from our enemies.

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