High-School Football Prank Provokes Terrorism Fears

Okay, so it was a stupid (and dangerous) stunt:

A 17-year-old Hopewell High student was apparently acting on a dare when he did a fly-over prank at a Hopewell High football game Friday, at one point dipping below the stadium lights.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials said Sunday that the teen pilot and two teen passengers flew the length of the field three times around 8 p.m. The plane reportedly came within feet of a flag pole.

On the final pass, a pair of tennis shoes and a football dropped from the single-engine Cessna 172 into the end zone, officials said.

But this is just funny:

"My immediate reaction was that we were going to have a terrorist act of some sort," said Vincent "Bud" Cesena, head of CMS law enforcement, who was among the 4,000 people in the stands.

Yeah, because the terrorists are going to target high-school football games.

Posted on November 13, 2007 at 6:01 AM • 63 Comments

Comments

tanguyrNovember 13, 2007 6:27 AM

Every time we hear about some small town law enforcement overreaction equating shenanigans and pranks with terrorism, the main stream reaction seems to be "come on, who would ever want to bomb THEM??"

Is target-worthiness the new bragging point between city slickers and country hicks?

peteNovember 13, 2007 6:39 AM

Come on, Cesena is talking about his "immediate reaction" as a firsthand witness. Is he really to blame for being jumpy?

bobNovember 13, 2007 6:59 AM

While the law enforcement guy was jumping to the wrong conclusions, what the moron kid did is still stupid. Its unlawful in addition to being dumb to fly an airplane that close to any populated area, and of course since 9/11 they have a special restriction against flying anywhere near that sort of venue.

Furthermore if the engine had quit (doesnt happen often, but it still is something you need to prepare for) where was he going to land?

And of course the people at TSA cant tell the difference between a mosquito and a pterosaur so this will produce the aircraft equivalent of banning 3.3oz of fluids on airliners.

I hope they put him in prison for 10 years or so for endangering the spectators and players and for causing (undoubtedly) even more dumbassed knee-jerk securitytheatre against flying.

Nick LancasterNovember 13, 2007 7:01 AM


The point is that, before 9/11, people would have thought 'pilot in trouble' or 'stupid prank'.

Now, we're lifetime subscribers to the Fear Makes You Stupid channel.

StineNovember 13, 2007 7:02 AM

There was a similar fly-by incident in my town. In this case, the guy was trying to impress his date by flying low over the football game.

Just like this one, the local paper quoted citizens concerned about terrorism. In fact, I believe earlier that month there was a law enforcement official talking about Homeland Security grants we got for patrolling Lake Erie. He mentioned that we really needed the money because of the lake being an international border.

VickiNovember 13, 2007 7:28 AM

It's not just that people would have thought "pilot in trouble." It's that maybe that was his immediate reaction, but that's not a quote from the police radio immediately after the plane was seen. If it were, I would understand someone saying "is it terrorists?" or even "we're being attacked."

This is what a law enforcement official thought was appropriate to tell the press later. Not "people were worried for a moment, but it was just a stupid kid" or "It was only a prank, not a pilot in trouble," but "My immediate reaction was that we were going to have a terrorist act of some sort." I wonder who funds his salary, and whether he's asked for a raise lately.

AnonymousNovember 13, 2007 7:33 AM

--“My immediate reaction was that we were going to have a terrorist act of some sort,��? said Vincent “Bud��? Cesena, head of CMS law enforcement, who was among the 4,000 people in the stands.

“Then, as he circled, you saw that it was kids in the plane, and I was hoping it that it was just some kind of prank. I was thinking to myself: ‘Should I empty the stands and risk someone being trampled or see what happens?’ I knew for sure someone would get hurt if I emptied the stands.��?--

Seems like he didnt empty the stands, from what i understand, because the risk of someone being hurt in the process was more certain than the risk of a terrorist attack.

KeithNovember 13, 2007 7:42 AM

@Stine
You've gotta watch out for terry-rists from Soviet Canuckistan.
They've got free healthcare, so they must be evil.

Jonadab the Unsightly OneNovember 13, 2007 7:51 AM

> Yeah, because the terrorists are going to target high-school football games.

Don't joke about that. Ten high-school stadia in ten small towns in ten states on the same Friday night would effectively create *way* more terror than targetting a major airport, and it would be a lot easier to pull off. (There are even more worrisome soft targets in our society, as well, if you think about it.)

Fortunately, eastern terrorists focus for cultural reasons on big symbolic targets and, as a rule, don't understand our culture well enough to know what would be effective or not. (They did not, for instance, hit the WTC on 9/11 because of the number of people who were going to be there or the difficulty of evacuating collapsing buildings. They hit it because it was the World Trade Center, a symbol of Western capitalism and success. To an American the Statue of Liberty would be the obvious symbolic target in NYC, but the terrorists in question don't think like Americans. The overwhelming effectiveness of the attack was almost certainly a secondary result, something they did not plan and likely could not have planned.)

As for domestic terrorists, most are either working solo, or small groups (2-3), so if they went in for multiple small attacks they'd have a hard time pulling off very many without getting caught (Kaczynski being a marked exception to this, but he avoided being physically present when his bombs went off). I have some difficulty imagining a domestic terrorist group in the US coming up with twelve people who are willing to get caught for the sake of the cause, much less willing to die for it. So the considerations are different. The only Western group I can think of that might potentially be able to field that kind of team is the IRA, and they'd rather attack UK targets than US targets.

I think that's a really key distinction to keep in mind when you're thinking about how to defend against terrorism: what kind of terrorist group are you facing, and what is their cultural background? Getting this wrong is the major reason our airplane hostage policies left us so vulnerable to 9/11: we were thinking of plane hijackings in terms of Western criminals or terrorists as the hijackers. Western hijackers want to get off the plane alive, so our old policy of not doing anything in the air and trying to get the plane on the ground as soon as possible made sense for dealing with them -- but it's obviously inadequate if the hijackers are Middle-Eastern terrorists, so we've changed the policy now.

Perhaps what we should be worried about is, what other general security-related policies do we have that were designed with the assumption that we're defending against a domestic criminal, and how could those be exploited by someone with a different cultural background and mindset?

wumpusNovember 13, 2007 7:56 AM

-- noting Anonymous above --

Since he actually considered the consequences of overreacting I think we should at least consider him some kind of new role-model if not hero. Shouldn't he be short listed for the new Boston Chief of Police?

AnonymousNovember 13, 2007 8:40 AM

@Jonadab:

Whoa, there, Tex. You take a single plane piloted by a bunch of not-too-smart teenagers and conflate it into a what-if attack on ten high school games. That's the kind of fear-impaired thinking we need to avoid, IMHO.

Do you have anything to back up the 'WTC wasn't as obvious a target as the Statue of Liberty'? Or are you a victim of your own theory and neglecting that the twin towers are in the middle of a metropolitan area, while the Statue of Liberty is on a separate island?

What's to keep *any* terrorist from deviating from a filed flight plan, and how would your proposed policies affect that?

AnonymousNovember 13, 2007 8:54 AM

Why did the local authorities not have security at the game for this type of threat?

Shoot first and ask questions later.

Brandioch ConnerNovember 13, 2007 9:16 AM

@Jonadab
"Fortunately, eastern terrorists focus for cultural reasons on big symbolic targets and, as a rule, don't understand our culture well enough to know what would be effective or not."

Given that we now have a cop in some no where town fearing "terrorists", I don't believe that your statement is accurate.

Go ahead and try to get on a airline in the US without taking off your shoes while carrying an unopened soda can.

"Ten high-school stadia in ten small towns in ten states on the same Friday night would effectively create *way* more terror than targetting a major airport, and it would be a lot easier to pull off."

No, it would not. You'd have to coordinate TEN TIMES AS MANY PEOPLE in TEN TIMES AS MANY LOCATIONS.

Instead, just wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas and drive a car bomb into a crowded airport terminal.

But we've been over that scenario here time and time again.

RichardNovember 13, 2007 9:25 AM

Reminds me of this report into a recent fire in London:

http://www.contractjournal.com/Articles/2007/11/...

"The Metropolitan Police is investigating the fire but has so far discounted a terrorist motive. 'We have nothing to suggest that this anything other than a fire at the moment,' said a police spokesman."

It's not clear whether the Met was pushed into answering in this way, or volunteered the analysis, but in either case, why was terrorism the first explanation that leapt to mind? Surely no terrorist in their right mind would choose to attack a disused warehouse on a building site that was due for demolition anyway...

I suspect a newspaper-selling agenda, but I think it's sad that any such event is now automatically analysed against the least likely explanation: terrorism is fantastically rare. Occum's razor, anyone?

AlexNovember 13, 2007 9:26 AM

The stupid here is that he feared terrorists; not stupid kid crashing aeroplane into stand, but TERRORISTS!!

As if it would be more dangerous.

nzrussNovember 13, 2007 9:36 AM

"came within feet of a flag pole"

Yeah, I was at a stadium the other day and a Jetliner flew 'within feet' of the stadium....... 10,000 feet.

MyCatNovember 13, 2007 9:42 AM

@Jonadab

Maybe they didn't attack the Statue of Liberty because it is French, not American.

alphadogNovember 13, 2007 9:55 AM


I don't know what to think of the collection of intellectual elitists and posting here who can "monday quarterback" the fear of some others that lived in that moment and that the press selectively quoted.

Does minimizing/laughing/deriding the fears that others have in a world they suddenly don't understand make you feel superior?

I hope you all get something out of it. I just get disgust...

- alphadog

Dom De VittoNovember 13, 2007 10:00 AM

I was on a train and saw a man with a backpack, and immediately thought, "terrorist attack".

Sheesh, it's TERRORism FFS. If you're terrorfied, that's the objective.
The whole US of A is terrorfied -> The terrorists have won.

Can we move on?

FPNovember 13, 2007 10:29 AM

@bob:

"They have a special restriction against flying anywhere near that sort of venue."

No, they don't.

RSaundersNovember 13, 2007 10:30 AM

@Nick,

Your "Fear Makes You Stupid" explanation is great, I hope you own that domain. When you see something unusual, the goal is to "figure it out" by fitting it into a pattern. As folks have noted, "stupid teenager" would have been the pattern for 1950 through 2000. Somebody would be trying to figure out which parent to call and say "Your kid's got a plane and is buzzing the football game. Not a good idea."

Now we have a Security Policy that says "Unusual things might be early signs of terrorism." That gives us a new pattern, and it fits everything. That triggers it a lot, and we're not objecting to the "lack of imagination" it is causing. Even though "lack of imagination" was listed as a cause for 9/11 (for those not reading Tom Clancy). When the Boston Police Chief doesn't get fired for wasting resources, the pattern doesn't get any "bad" connotation. Unfortunately, a pattern that always fits, even "it must be God's will", is worthless. Everybody uses it all the time, and they will continue to until the "little boy who cried wolf" effect takes over. If I were a terrorist, and for the record I'm not, that's what I'd be waiting for.

AndrewNovember 13, 2007 10:39 AM


>> I was thinking to myself: ‘Should I empty the stands and risk someone being trampled or see what happens?’ I knew for sure someone would get hurt if I emptied the stands.

How amazingly . . . prudent. Weighing the risks of evacuation versus the actual risk to the public. I have nothing but complements for this peace officer leader.

>> The overwhelming effectiveness of the [WTC] attack was almost certainly a secondary result, something they did not plan and likely could not have planned"

This doesn't seem to be consistent with much that I've heard and read. They knew they wanted to drop the towers and they knew that the fuel load on the aircraft would start a devastating fire that would do exactly that.

Don't commit the logical fallacy that evil equals stupid.

>> Instead, just wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas and drive a car bomb into a crowded airport terminal.

Don't give people ideas! Another conversation we've had in different variants. This particular modality is very difficult to counter even if you put heavily armed people on the roadway with orders to immediately shoot up suspicious vehicles. A little context for Boston, anyone?

OmnifariousNovember 13, 2007 10:46 AM

*** Do you have anything to back up the 'WTC wasn't as obvious a target as the Statue of Liberty'? Or are you a victim of your own theory and neglecting that the twin towers are in the middle of a metropolitan area, while the Statue of Liberty is on a separate island?

Well, as anecdotal evidence here, I thought the same thing on that day. Why didn't they go for the Statue of Liberty?

I think the point about what sorts of terrorists you're defending against is an important one.

To me, the lesson of 9/11 revealed two, big, fundamental flaws.

First, we rely entirely too much on signals intelligence when we ought to be spending a bunch of effort infiltrating these organizations. I have a theory as to why this is the case and why it isn't going to change, and I'll get to it in a bit.

Secondly, we had all the wrong idea about the kind of danger represented by hijackers. There were people who had thought this through, but none of them had any ability to make the policy changes needed to alleviate the threat.

I think we will never manage infiltration again because infiltration requires a great deal of creativity and intelligence. Our government has become a self-perpetuating, top-heavy pile of incompetent, self-serving idiots. I believe we are totally missing the organizational acumen to pull it off.

Signals intelligence is easy to 'industrialize'. It fits well into a hierarchical structure in which intelligence is pushed to the bottom and stupidity bubbles to the top.

As for the "OMG, it's a plane flying too low, it must be terrorists!"... Being willing to report that observation in an official capacity in breathless prose to a waiting media is a gigantic blinking neon sign of a fear driven society.

OmnifariousNovember 13, 2007 10:53 AM

>>>> The overwhelming effectiveness of the [WTC] attack was almost certainly a secondary result, something they did not plan and likely could not have planned"

>>This doesn't seem to be consistent with much that I've heard and read. They knew they wanted to drop the towers and they knew that the fuel load on the aircraft would start a devastating fire that would do exactly that.

No, from the comments by Osama bin Laden afterwards, it sounded very much like the collapse of the towers was a completely unexpected happy accident.

anonymousNovember 13, 2007 11:06 AM

Oh the irony! ... The security guy's last name is Cesena. The plane was a single-engine Cessna 172. You can't make this stuff up, folks!

RoyNovember 13, 2007 11:09 AM

Stupid kid or terrorism?

In 1993 we had a handful of terrorists attack the WTC. In 2001, 19 of them attacked, hijacking 4 aircraft to use as weapons. Total attackers in 50 years -- a couple dozen.

We've had stupid kids for eons, and we've got them by the millions.

The odds are astronomically in favor of stupid kids, so stupid kids is the call to make.

We all get snail mail. Letter bombs are possible, but if we start treating everything that could be a letter bomb like it is a letter bomb, our entire society will shudder to a stop the first day.

We don't have the resources to treat all mail as potential letter bombs, nor should we want to fund such resources. Letter bombs are so rare that trying to prevent their use will squander resources on the highly improbable.

Don LeveyNovember 13, 2007 11:16 AM

Yeah, because the terrorists are going to target high-school football games.

Yeah, why not? If their goal is to strike terror, to say "we can get you where it matters most," then they'll start targeting high-school football games, start heaving backpacks of explosives over the fences of elementary school playgrounds. If they're interested in "statements" and grand gestures, they'll keep trying for WTC-type attacks. For *real* terrorism, look at what Israel deals with.

timNovember 13, 2007 11:18 AM

I am also amused by every little big and small town officer equating everything with "terrorism" versus "teenagers doing what teenagers do - stupid things".

@alphadog
Most of us don't panic when a Cessna flies over a high school football game. At least those of us that went to high school at least.

TSNovember 13, 2007 12:10 PM

@Jonadab:
What Americans are you thinking of?

The Statue of Liberty is a hunk of corroding copper on a scraggly piece of New Jersey. If terrorists blew up miss liberty, sure there'd be an outcry. Maybe even a few deaths. But everyone would be saying "it could have been much worse" or "thank god it wasn't the empire state building".

As a resident of NYC, blowing up the Statue of liberty would have almost no impact on my life or my routine. An attack on Times Square, GCT, Penn Station, Empire State Building, any of those would have severe impact on hundreds of thousands of people. The steam pipe explosion in July is still affecting traffic on Lex.

Of course they knew the impact of the attack on the WTC, of course it was planned. You seem to forget that 9/11 was the *second* attack on the twin towers. They saw the response to that attack, they could easily see that a successful attack would be devastating to the US economy.

Brandioch ConnerNovember 13, 2007 12:31 PM

@Andrew
"Don't give people ideas! Another conversation we've had in different variants. This particular modality is very difficult to counter even if you put heavily armed people on the roadway with orders to immediately shoot up suspicious vehicles. A little context for Boston, anyone?"

Wrong. It is SIMPLE to counter. Just put the traffic zone AWAY from the terminal.

Yes, it would require money to redesign the airports ... but that is the entire point.

We're spending money on STUPID things instead of looking at where the vulnerabilities really are and FIXING THOSE VULNERABILITIES.

Frank Ch. EiglerNovember 13, 2007 1:00 PM

> Yeah, because the terrorists are going to target high-school football games.

Have you heard of Beslan?

AnonymousNovember 13, 2007 1:17 PM

@keith
"You've gotta watch out for terry-rists from Soviet Canuckistan.
They've got free healthcare, so they must be evil."

Hah! Its even worse than that! Them Canuckistanis have all that oil and yet still have a nuclear research and development program -- which they claim is just for producing electricity! And they even have a couple of secret, secure centres where they are studying germs and such -- but of course they claim it is for humanitatirn resaons and medical research, but we all KNOW the truth...

alphadogNovember 13, 2007 1:39 PM

@tim: "I am also amused by every little big and small town officer equating everything with "terrorism" versus "teenagers doing what teenagers do - stupid things"."

I love that. It's common in many posts on this blog. So, apparently EVERY officer is equating EVERYTHING with terrorism. Is there any room left in your hyperbole for rational discussion? I don't see any.

Don't assume he's doing it for more than being quoted in the paper. It's dramatic. Get a vidclip on CNN maybe? Fifteen minutes of fame?

I guess you never panic. That's a nice skill. I wish I was as emotionally inert and apathetic. But, if a plane buzzed a field below stadium lights level, I'd panic, although that may be too strong a word. Of course, my first thought would be "drunk pilot", not "terrorist" or even "school kid". But, I suspect ol'Vic just wanted his name in the paper, so he obligingly said the keyword "terrorist".

It's a big step from attention-grubbing to some sort of "Soviet America".

"Most of us don't panic when a Cessna flies over a high school football game. At least those of us that went to high school at least."

That's a poor, assumptive and misplaced elitist jab. I'm glad for you that you eventually passed high school, although I'm assuming that's what you implied and may not be the case. (English may not have been your best grade though. I noted the doubled use of 'at least' in one sentence.) However, in my days all the way up to PhD studies, I met my fair share of specialized smarts/generalized idiots with degrees of all types, so I usually don't put as much emphasis on it as you seem to do.

- alphadog

AnonymousNovember 13, 2007 1:56 PM

@omnifarious: "Being willing to report that observation in an official capacity in breathless prose to a waiting media is a gigantic blinking neon sign of a fear driven society."

Or, not society, but the press.

Even I, who does not believe this society is "gripped by fear", knows that if I'd want to be quoted in the press, I'd have to say "terrorist" somewhere in what I said. The news media lives in a vacuum of their own making.

I agree with the underlying sentiment that the officer should at least be severely reprimanded for that lapse of judgment and control, though.

(And, for the record, I wouldn't.)

- alphadog

EponymousNovember 13, 2007 1:57 PM

Actually the vast majority of Americans live and work in areas that are of no exceptional political or financial value, even though these high value targets were attacked in 2001. And still, the mania and frenzy spread to even the smallest of podunks, with rural people often expressing more fear than those in living in Washington and New York.

So if broadly distributed and intense fear were the true aim of terrorist attacks, then a high school football game is precisely what they WOULD want to attack, because they are so normal and ubiquitous.

I was living in Montgomery County during the sniper crisis and I can tell you emphatically and at least anectodally that random terrorism is 10x scarier than targeted terrorism. Just ask the Israelis.

RrNovember 13, 2007 3:10 PM

@Frank Ch. Eigler

Apples and oranges - Beslan was a hostage situation. A Cessna over a football field doesn't sound like a smart hostage-taking move.

IntelVetNovember 13, 2007 3:13 PM

TS:

Find and watch the video of bin Laden at a friends house dinner, around Nov 2001. A translation reveals they only expected deaths above the impact points and never expected the towers to collapse.

Foreigners have always viewed the WTC as the most visible of the financial hub in NYC, making a hit most desirable. The fact that the WTC was not built very well had something to do with the collapse, as well.

All:

There are FARs defining minimum height above unpopulated to populated areas. I believe minimum height above a populated area (stadiums are considered so) is 1500 ft above.

If the "facts" are as reported, I am certain the pilot will get his feathers trimmed for a while.

Brandioch ConnerNovember 13, 2007 3:30 PM

@Eponymous
"I was living in Montgomery County during the sniper crisis and I can tell you emphatically and at least anectodally that random terrorism is 10x scarier than targeted terrorism."

I'll disagree.

I would be that 99% of the people in any other part of the country could not even tell you the time frame that those shootings occurred in.

But ask anyone what the exact date of the WTC attack was and they'll be able to tell you.

And that is because it was replayed constantly. And it is constantly being referred to.

Hit the big targets and people will remember it longer. And the politicians will use it to spread fear.

UNTERNovember 13, 2007 3:40 PM

@Jonadab
"Fortunately, eastern terrorists focus for cultural reasons on big symbolic targets and, as a rule, don't understand our culture well enough to know what would be effective or not."

Here is a good example of cultural egocentrism. The goal of hitting the towers was not just to "terrorize" Americans, but also to terrorize Europeans and to gain support among radicals across the world.

Hitting high-school football games may terrorize Americans, but would have little to no effect on non-Americans, and would not create an upsurge of support among radicals world-wide. The towers were an economic target, a symbol of American economic hegemony --- that's why people care. They don't hate us for our "freedoms" (then they would have hit the Statue of Liberty), but for our power. The towers were exactly on target for that.

The only other option would have been Disney World, but that would also have been targeting children, destroying it's effectiveness for rallying anti-American radicals.

We always forget that Americans form less than 5% of the world.

ColinNovember 13, 2007 4:13 PM

@Keith

"Soviet Canuckistan"?
It's intersting how I never read about "Soviet Canuckistans" pulling dumb crap like that.

Sound like you've spent too much time on CNN, ABC, or whatever A - B%$* Sh!& you get brain washed with.

BTW, it's Patch Tuesday, send me an email if you want me to walk you through how to update your Windows :)

AnonymousNovember 13, 2007 4:16 PM

re IntelVet, it's not 1500 feet. FAR 91.119:
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

UNTERNovember 13, 2007 4:25 PM

Omnifarious: "First, we rely entirely too much on signals intelligence when we ought to be spending a bunch of effort infiltrating these organizations. I have a theory as to why this is the case and why it isn't going to change, and I'll get to it in a bit."

It's because signals intelligence won for us WWII, and then kept the Cold War at bay. We've built up an entire industry for signals intelligence which has an interest in keeping human intelligence as unfunded and limited as possible, even when it would be the right way to go. Since government is always dominated by the oligarchy of the day, the only solutions is history making that oligarchy pay -- of course the rest of us get trampled when an elephant herd panics.

It's not just that our leadership is stupid --- they get paid by some very smart people to stay stupid, and without a functional democracy, the feedback loop fails.

col.hector@gmail.comNovember 13, 2007 4:42 PM

@UNTER
if you guys had any intelligence you wouldn't:
a. re-elect George
b. stop watching your brainwash networks inducing paranoia and actually enjoy life like the rest of the world

BTW, "won us WWII"?
You would be nothing without Brits.
"kept Cold War at bay"?
If russians were an ounce competent (perhaps were not starving at the time they were making decisions) you'd be speaking Russian right now.

UNTERNovember 13, 2007 6:58 PM

@col.hector:

Oh give me a break, Americans are no more stupid and gullible than the rest of the world (which is quite stupid and gullible). Yes, we keep and electing Bush's, and the rest of the world just keeps on helping them when they're in power, thereby making it that much easier for them to win re-election. Europe won't flex 1% of it's economic muscle to limit the stupidity we see; while European politicians cry about American criminality, they continue to cooperate with the kidnapping of their residents and citizens.

So cry me an ocean about America! It's hard to find any countries with real power who hands aren't just as bloody, who's population isn't just as gullible. Remember, 70% of Americans are against this administration - just like 90% of the British were against the Iraq war but just kept on supporting Labor.

BTW, "won us WWII"? No, it wasn't the Brits, it was the Russians who won the war by sacrificing 1/4 of their population to drain Germany. Signals intelligence "won us WWII," it won our part of it - some of which was contracted out to the Brits, some of which was done in the US, primarily by European immigrants, just like the Manhattan project. It allowed us to dominate the post-war period because we played the game without sacrificing an entire generation (like the Russians and to a lesser extent the Brits). Everyone lost WWII except the US!

And Russia's loss of the Cold War wasn't "incompetence" -- it was poverty due to losing an entire generation to the WWII. In practice, that gave us the pool of mathematicians to win the signals intelligence games with the Russians.

In short, just suck it. Anti-americanism is just as stupid as the American jingoism I have to hear as well.

col.hector@gmail.comNovember 13, 2007 7:09 PM

@UNTER

I appreciate your response. It's refreshing to get an intelligent, unbiased and civilized response.

And no, I'm not being sarcastic, I mean it.

Thanks!

bobNovember 14, 2007 7:06 AM

@FP:

Consolidated Federal Regulations / Federal Aviation Regulations, part 91.119 states:

"Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes ... over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft."

Assuming the lights were 50' high, there was no other structure or tree or anything within 1/2 mile and the stadium was not in a "congested" area (which would raise the minimum even further) - that means the minimum altitude he could legally have operated that airplane over a stadium would have been 1050' above the ground. At that altitude he'd have been lucky to generate enough noise even at full power to be heard over the band, let alone scare anyone.

So, yes; they have a special restriction against flying anywhere near that sort of venue. Unless you're claiming someone built a stadium right at the end of a runway and he needed to fly through it to land?

Ed T.November 14, 2007 8:08 AM

At least it was a Cessna. My mother told me of the time that one of her classmates "buzzed" the high school. As he had just graduated from USAAF pilot training, he was in a B-17!

~EdT.

AnonymousNovember 14, 2007 12:19 PM

@UNTER et al, remember, there was another theatre of operations during WW2, and SigInt was a key factor enabling the US to defeat the Japanese in pivotal naval battles, particularly Midway.

Unter, good point about the strategic advantage accruing to the US as an outcome from WW2 because of the homeland protection afforded by those large moats on either side of the American continent. Could it be that the drastic response galvanized by 9/11 was the appropriate reaction to having an attack reach the previously inviolate homeland?

UNTERNovember 14, 2007 12:32 PM

@Anonymous: "Could it be that the drastic response galvanized by 9/11 was the appropriate reaction to having an attack reach the previously inviolate homeland?"

What does "appropriate" mean to you? To me, it implies efficacious, non-disruptive, and at least semi-rational. Maybe you were searching for "unsurprising"? A serious response would have been appropriate, since there were elements of our defense which didn't take into account an attack of this nature. The drastic response is a completely different kind of creature, more akin in mindset to the outbreaks of anti-Chinese rioting at the beginning of the century.

AnonymousNovember 14, 2007 2:27 PM

@jonadab: I do not think Osama's motivation was to terrorize America. He wanted to force the US into conflict with the Middle East.

AndrewNovember 14, 2007 9:48 PM

>> Wrong. It is SIMPLE to counter. Just put the traffic zone AWAY from the terminal.

Simple and horrendously expensive, as in billions so it's not going to happen expensive. It's not enough to move taxi stands and pickup/dropoff locations; we need to install mantrap style vehicle accesses on all tarmac perimeters and earth berm or intrusion barrier all fence lines and building walls adjacent to ring roads. It could be done with considerable difficulty at smaller airports such as Oakland, San Jose and Ontario, but what do we do about integrated parking garages in heavily built up areas like those at LAX, John Wayne and SFO?

We're going to take the hits, just like we did on September 11th for having minimum wage security screeners due to cost pressures from the airlines. That cost us a few buildings and 5,000 lives (and arguably a war in Iraq), versus fifteen years at minimum wage for several thousand screeners.

>> We're spending money on STUPID things instead of looking at where the vulnerabilities really are and FIXING THOSE VULNERABILITIES.

Some vulnerabilities are too big to fix. Trying to fix them piecemeal would just guarantee terrorist attacks on those facilities which had not yet made fixes.

High school stadiums are going to remain very, very low on the fix list.

"Every problem has a solution, neat plausible and wrong." Security fixes that cost billions when only hundreds of lives are in question fall in this category. If we have a few spare billion lying around, upgrading the dying air traffic control system and armoring the damn cockpit doors would be a great start.

averrosNovember 15, 2007 3:48 PM

@UNTER: And Russia's loss of the Cold War wasn't "incompetence" -- it was poverty due to losing an entire generation to the WWII.

Nonsense. The Soviet Union "lost" the Cold War (which it had no reason to be engaged in in the first place) because it fell apart due to the economic impossibility of socialism. Not "impracticality" or "worse performance" but plain impossibility.

This impossiblity was proven by Ludwig von Mises back in 1920 - his analysis was right on spot.

Maybe it is time to face the truth - that socialism (and collectivism in general) cannot work, and stop finding conspirological and pseudoscientific excuses for the Soviet experiment with socialism as being somehow derailed by circumstances rather than by the insanity of the socialist idea.

The Soviet Union wasn't the first country to fall apart because of economic illiteracy of its rulers. What is worrying is that US is firmly on the path to the similar future - for the very same reason.

danimNovember 15, 2007 8:16 PM

averros> socialism (and collectivism in general) cannot work

Does this also apply to China where it seems to work, or can it only be generalized to the Soviets?

Along the time there has been many first powers of the world, each having a different politic organization, and US has been the only democratic one. We already had kingdoms, empires and other types of first powers. Soviet Union stopped to work when started the democratic path!

averrosNovember 16, 2007 4:18 AM

@danim: Does this also apply to China where it seems to work, or can it only be generalized to the Soviets?

If by "working" you mean extermination of over 100 million people, then yes, it was a perfectly working meatgrinder.

If you mean modern-day Chinese economy, you may actually want to go there and see for yourself. You'll find that modern China is a lot more capitalistic that modern US, Party rhetoric notwithstanding.

As for democracies - do not forget that all mega-killings were committed by people's regimes. Quite democratically. Socrates quit ecomprehensively explained why democracies always turn cannibalistic - 2300 years ago - and it makes one wonder that majority of people still do not understand his arguments. BTW, it is a little known fact, but US is not a democracy, it is a republic. Big difference. (Though it is turning into another murderous democracy - watch the democratization in Iraq).

But, then, I guess they do not teach any political theory in the schools nowadays beyond the "Democracy is Our God, So It Must Be Good" mantra.

UNTERNovember 16, 2007 9:08 AM

averros:

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Mises, Mises, Mises.

Libertarian are the right-wing equivalent of Marxists. They fantasize they have a "scientific" understanding of the world, when it's just the same theological clap-trap we've lived with for millenia without any semblance of empirical evidence.

Democracy is evil, therefor Oligarchy good. And don't even start with Socrates, who preferred Sparta, a massive slave state with 9/10's of the population held in perpetual servitude and terror - Socrates had a nice agenda there, and then gave us the basis for Christianity. Nice hero for libertarianism!

The Soviets had higher growth rates than the US until the sixties. Of course, that's partially explained that they started from nothing. And the system tops out short because some tech's are essentially decentralizing. But if the Soviets hadn't loss a quarter of their population, they would have been a much more attractive model to the world, maybe enough to have beaten us before they reached the computer plateau.

Libertarianism - simple solutions for simple minds! All "collectivism" is the same - all "capitalism" is the same; maybe you want to move to China?

UNTERNovember 16, 2007 9:12 AM

And Averroes, you know you give the game away with your citing of "Cannibalistic Democracy"! The argument, in short, is that the people are plainly too stupid to do anything but destroy themselves, short-sighted and simple-minded. So, an elite selected by some mechanism (merit, wealth, birth) must have their hands on the levers, for their own good.

So, if that's your liberterianism, where's the liberty? The liberty for an elite? Liberty for those deserving of it? The very name of the movement is a lie, then. It's not libertarianism, it's oligarchism. Maybe not feudal, maybe not fascist (maybe), but in essence you are arguing against liberty, in the name of liberty. Like the Lenninists argued for against egalitarianism in the name of egalitarianism. We know where that ends...

averrosNovember 18, 2007 10:48 PM

@UNTER

Please, educate yourself a bit - your statements show the profound lack of knowledge of the subject of the discussion.

No matter how you dislike Mises, his argumentation was never shown wrong or deficient.

You're making interesing statements about Soviet Union - which those of us who actually lived there would find hilarious ("growth rates" - as reported by whom? "The increasing well-being of Soviet people" was the running joke for decades - and a staple of the propaganda.) Did you ever consider fates of the slaves which were sacrificed to build that industry? The people who didn't exist? Did you ever think what happened to the cripples after the WWII? To the orphaned children?

The basic axioms of libertarianism is equality of rights for everyone and freedom from aggression by others. Only someone truly ignorant can claim that from these one can derive "liberty for elite" but not for the "masses" (if I parsed your statement properly).

If anything, this is the present status quo - the "elite" does pretty much as it wants while the complacent sheep lap the lies they're told on TV - thinking that their opinions somehow matter (oh, yes, a lot of Soviet people had that delusion, too). US is angling for a quarter century of rule by Bushes and Clintons - and you say that this is somehow not an oligarchy?

BTW, I'm not sure where you got that idea about Lenin - unlike you, I studied his works thoroughly (had to study, to get acceptable grades for mandatory courses on subjects such as "Scientific Communism" and "Polticial economy of Marx and Lenin"). Nowhere he argued against eligatarianism. You simply don't know what you are talking about.

PBNovember 19, 2007 11:25 AM

First of all, let's clear up a thing or two. The wonderful Charlotte Observer reported that a Football and a pair of shoes were dropped. ACTUALLY, it was a football with a Parachute (granted it was a makeshift one, a plastic trash bag) but the media insists on making up their own stories.

Secondly, the pilot is not an idiot, he is a very intelligent honor student who enjoys flying airplanes. BTW, it is not that just anyone can get a pilots license.

And for those of you who just don't know about the rivalry between these schools, a lot of these kids grew up living beside, going to church, playing ball with each other. As we all know, teenagers like to "one-up" other classes. Several years ago, a streaker was the highlight of the game. Of course CMS had no sense of humor with that either. In fact, they expelled the student forever.

Now, I am not defending the flyovers, but they would have probably only flown over once if they could have gotten that darn football with the PARACHUTE out the window of the plane easier. But knowing the pilot personally and having a lot of respect for his flying skills, the crowd was safe.

We beg for our children to not be apathetic but it seems that anytime someone steps up and shows spirit, they are doomed.

AnonymousNovember 19, 2007 4:31 PM

>> Wrong. It is SIMPLE to counter. Just put the traffic zone AWAY from the terminal.
So's the guy with the car bomb now blows up a load of people getting in and out of their vehicles at a slightly greater distance from the terminal? The loading zones and car parks of an airport are just as busy as the terminals: it's not like people get off the plane and then vanish.4

AlanNovember 28, 2007 5:16 AM

The local police need to chill down I don't think Al Quida is going to target a small football game in a small town give me a break. If Bin Ladin found a new group of pilots and went through all the trouble to get them trained and obtained an aircraft do you think that a football game would be his best target. If I where going to use a Cessna 172 to hit a target it would be a target a oil refinery, cruise ship just leaving the dock a major electrical sub-station right at 8 am on a Monday. Easy targets that will cause to most damage with 650 pounds of explosive because that's about all you can haul in a 172 so the target needs to be in a confined area. A football field is not such a target to big. No this young adult broke the rules of flying and he knew it if not his flight instructor better have a good story. 9 times out of 10 such a stunt would have ended up as a low speed stall at low altitude and all on the aircraft would be dead. This story had a happy ending no one was killed. No one is going to a funeral because of that mistake. We all learned something young people still do stupid things and the police need to learn to think first and understand we as Americans are not afraid of terrorism we deal with it when it occurs and move on. It's about time our own government moved on and stop being afraid of there own shadow.

BelipDecember 8, 2007 9:59 AM

I personally think that the teen is being critisized way too much. What he did was very irresponsable and unsafe. He endangered his self and the lives of others. He can learn from his mistake. The school is trying to suspend him, which I think they have no right to do so. First off, the school doesn't own the airspace. The FAA should handle it. Several teachers and coaches knew about the incident ahead of time. For this reason, the school should not do anything to the boy. If anything is to be done, his pilot's liscense should be susspended.

School teacherDecember 11, 2007 7:32 AM

We are so frightened with acts of terrorism, that soon will jump from every noise. The problem is that still we don't know how to cooperate with terrorists.

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