…and unknowingly takes it onboard with him before realizing his error!
Another day, another problem with TSA’s Federal Flight Deck Officers program. I actually think the FFDO is a beneficial program that does more to promote security than any of the silliness we must endure at TSA passenger security checkpoints. But in order for the program to work, the pilot’s cannot be misplacing their service weapons! Maybe they missed that class at training school…
Let me queue up the story for you: a JetBlue pilot is shooting the bull with a Delta pilot in Terminal 5 at JFK and sets his hand baggage down–including the HK .40 caliber gun and a few extra clips, each with 37 rounds of ammunition packed away in a backpack. Some guy picks up the gun bag, thinking it’s his daughter’s carry-on luggage.
Onboard the guy’s aircraft, bound for West Palm Beach, his daughter says, "Daddy, that’s not my bag." Uh-oh. He rings the FA who collects the bag and makes a PA announcement about the lost bag. No takers so she opens it up and finds the pilot’s ID. Thankfully, she doesn’t find the gun which the pilot had the sense to conceal in another bag within the backpack.
The FA gives the bag to a gate agent. Meanwhile, the pilot, who was scheduled to fly to Pittsburgh, freaked out when he found "the" backpack was missing, but promptly reported it to the airport police. The police were called to pick up the bag and the contents were handed over to the TSA. The TSA is now "investigating" exactly what happened.
I am happy the gun did not fall into the wrong hands and I am exceedingly happy to again point out that no government agency can protect us from ourselves. But I was encouraged that by the ending of this story and hope this pilot’s error (which unfortunately is not the only FFDO horror story) does not lead to the scaling back or scrapping of the program. And call me a softy, but I wouldn’t revoke the pilot’s FFDO credentials. I think it’s going to be a long time before the pilot even sets "the" bag down outside of the flight deck.
Then again, I can’t count the number of times I’ve told myself I’ll never lose anything again, only to lose another pair of sunglasses or camera…or even a wallet.