Monday, June 8, 2009

"Welcome to the party, pal!": Pilot Protests Customs 'Check'

Gun owners to private pilots: "Welcome to the party, pal!"

My thanks to winterjust for pointing this out. Be sure and go to the link and listen to the podcast.


June 7, 2009

Pilot Protests Customs 'Check'

By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief, Avweb

Baja Bush Pilots, a group representing pilots who frequently fly to Mexico, is polling members to see if any have had an encounter with Customs and Border Protection agents similar to the experience of Long Beach, Calif. pilot David Perry and his three passengers a couple of weeks ago. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Perry says he was going through his pre-start checklist for a flight to Loreto, Mexico on May 22 when his Cessna 210 was suddenly surrounded by yelling CBP agents and local airport police, weapons drawn (the Customs agents had M-16s) who ordered them out of the airplane. "They were yelling at us to put our hands on our heads," said Perry, a retired military officer who said he makes frequent flights to his second home in Loreto. What followed was almost an hour of interrogation and searches for what was apparently a "random check" according to the senior agent in charge of the operation Perry said. "I couldn't believe I was in the United States," Perry said. AVweb contacted the Los Angeles field office of Customs and Border Protection and a spokeswoman said a statement is being prepared but would not be available before our publication deadline. AVweb will carry a follow-up story on the CBP's take on the incident as soon as the statement is transmitted.

Perry said he's since heard from another pilot who told him armed CBP agents in cars and a helicopter surrounded his aircraft on arrival at Long Beach on a flight from Texas. Perry said he's not opposed to security checks but he considered the agents unnecessarily threatening and aggressive for a random check. He also said the drawn weapons, besides terrifying him and his passengers, needlessly put them at risk. After the incident, he was cleared to resume the flight. It seems likely the agents knew when to intercept the flight based on the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) which, under recently adopted regulations, requires pilots of all cross-border flights to provide detailed information on the flight and the identities of passengers.


Longrifle said...

Keepin us Safe! At the expense of our dignity and freedom. It seems like they like to pick the low hanging fruit.

Defender said...

"Perry said he's since heard from another pilot who told him armed CBP agents in cars and a helicopter surrounded his aircraft on arrival at Long Beach on a flight from Texas."
So because he flew OVER Mexico, or might have, he's treated like a foreign invader?
Well, the Border Patrol has gotten so much cooperation at their internal highway checkpoints.
When you look at this crap and compare it to the Mexico-U.S. Trade Superhighway Corridor proposed to run north-south to Canada, you come to certain realizations. The usual ones. Checkpoints are for suckers, where there's money there will be movement, some "travelers" are more equal than others.

Anonymous said...

We are missing the most ominous part of the story.

Last year and years before you filed a flight plan and left. Now you have to pre-file with customs to 'leave' the country.

The Customs agents showed up while he was preflighting before leaving for Mexico.

Seems to me they are not so concerned with keeping out the bad guys as they are keeping in the sheep perhaps.


A Texan said...

"Seems to me they are not so concerned with keeping out the bad guys as they are keeping in the sheep perhaps."

Nah, the sheep will stay here all by themselves, even if they take an excursion here or there to another place. What, a sheep is going to flee the US? To where, pray tell?

No, what this is about is sheer intimidation - making sure the sheep, and the sheepdogs, don't get too uppity. Here is how the pros did it:

I had a great uncle who, unlike his brother (my grandfather) didn't get out of Russia in the 1920's. He did get out in '94, and I spoke to him about life there. He told me that one non-descript day in 1951 he was walking home from work, having done nothing wrong. He was even a member of the Communist Party (necessary to get his decently-paying job, assuredly NOT because of his beliefs). Suddenly, a car stopped in front of him and three very large characters with bulges in their overcoats "invited" him to visit the local NKVD (Stalin-era KGB) office. After a couple hours in a dark, damp and cold holding cell, he was thoroughly interrogated about every aspect of his life. 3 AM or so he was released, to walk home across the entire city. Anyhow, I asked him why they did this. He said to me, "Don't you know? That's how Stalin and Beria maintained control, by terrorizing the population. I had no idea that I would be pulled in - there was no predictability, and that causes terror, exactly as planned."

THAT is what has been happening to these pilots (the uniquely American way, where they point full autos at you and act like gang members). Be prepared for more of the same.

Defender said...

Ich bein EAST Berliner.

Anonymous said...

very chilling that now you are required as A PRIVATE PILOT to gain permission prior to a cross border flight LEAVING THE COUNTRY

next up, in country flights.

"domestic Enemies" was/is incredibly prescient.

Jeffersonian said...

It used to be, an American citizen could say with pride that "Other nations build walls to keep people in, while we build ours to keep people out.

It used to be....

Georgia AV8R said...

I'm a commercial pilot. Let me just say that we've joined the party a while back. I know many fellow pilots that are Threepers.

Zendo Deb said...

Hey, boaters have had to put up with this kind of thing forever, though the coast guard does tend to be *mostly* polite.

"Heave-to and prepare to be boarded" is a classic phrase. And they do come aboard with guns - and sometimes with dogs.

You can be boarded anywhere, anytime by the coasties - though they usually don't bother you at the dock. Fines for expired flares are the most common. (Did you even know your flares expire? as do your fire extinguishers.)

A few things you have to have....

A copy of the regs.
Life Jackets for everyone and 1 throwable.
fire extinguishers (I need 2 on my boat)
flares (3)

They will also look for cigars (it is Florida - and Cuba is just over the horizon), stowaways - ditto on Cuba - drugs, whatever.

You actually don't have to have left the country. If you are in waters that connect with international waters...