My little CNN news headline email notifier had something about “developing story” the Capitol building being evacuated because of an inbound aircraft. They weren’t providing any information other than people franticly evacuating the area. (Pelosi being lifted out of her shoes?)

I took a rare lunch out of the office at the pasta place across the street. I placed my order, and went to find the bathroom. The door was locked with someone inside. After a few minutes, I heard the cell phone connect beeps followed by “Hey, Joe, how’s it going?” I didn’t stick around to wait for the rest of the conversation: “Yeah, I’m doing well. I’m just finishing taking a dump. (flush)” Add this to the list of places cell phones ought not to be used.

When I got back, the anticlimatic punchline was an image of the tail of a Cessna 152 on the right and, at the bottom, the (presumably) pilot kissing the concrete runway with the help of an officer’s knee in his back.

I’m glad everyone is safe, but the overreaction just reinforces my feelings that all of the intuitively stupid stuff we’ve been subjected to — shoe removal at airport, concrete bunkers in the paring garage, missile defense at the Capitol — is for naught.

For my 99% non-aviation readers, a Cessna 152 is one of the smallest airplanes one can rent.

It’s typically used as a trainer because it’s small, slow, docile and, as far as anything with wings goes, cheap. When fully fueled, it’s barely adequate for carrying the instructor and student pilot. Inside, the seats are more like bumps in the floor with backrests. The panel is a throwback to the 1960s style of design and sophistication… As Douglas Adams might say, it’s Mostly Harmless. Let’s compare this to some cars:

Vehicle Cessna 152 Mini Cooper Subaru Impreza Toyota Prius Hummer H2
Weight 1,670* 2900 3110 2950 6700
Horsepower 110 115 165 110 325
Fuel Capacity 26 13.2 15.9 11.9 32
MPG 12 24 22 51 8
Recommended by Consumer Reports N N Y Y N

* 1,141 pounds empty. Add two people (2 x 175 pounds), plus the weight of fuel (26 gallons x 6 pounds/gallon), 20 pounds of gear, and you have enough remaining payload for a half-dozen water balloons.

WTF? The radar is so bad they can’t tell it’s smaller than a Mini? Or maybe they missed the VFR transponder signal (1200)? Were the Blackhawk copters called in because the F16s couldn’t fly that slow? Were the pilots seriously thinking of navigating that airspace without a GPS or talking to ATC?

Sigh. Instead of focusing on why there was such an overreaction and a colossal failure of the communication system, the
media instead wants to further prove the pilots were airheads. Well, duh. However, for the record, I can sympathize with having problems getting the surly fuel pump to comply. (Typically, the line boy is too focused on flirting with the person behind the counter.)

I never, ever want to be in the news when they use my full name.
The only good thing to come out of this is I won’t have to read about Michael Jackson, Terry Shiavo, or the Pope for at least another few hours. (No, really, I don’t need to know any more about these.)

4 thoughts on “Overreaction”

  1. Hearding a bunch of middle-aged, Asian tourists out of the Capitol at a run was a huge, huge over reaction akin to when I worked in a building that backed up on to the building the FCC was in and the FCC would get a bomb threat so they’d heard us all out on to the street (great! where I can be hit by flying debris for sure should the bomb actually go off!). It was, sadly, though, not as much of an overreaction as they could have made (see news stories about the guy they tackled and dragged across the Capitol veranda after he’d been standing still with two large suitcases at his side *for over two hours*). I’m just waiting for them to start blocking off streets again with no notice or consult; that’ll be an a**load of fun.

  2. You know, I really do know the difference between herd and heard (goes down to check the coffee maker to make sure someone didn’t put in decaf by mistake)

  3. Shh–it’s zero tolerance. Mustn’t argue with zero tolerance.

    FYI, I wondered where a predator drone would fit in that table.

    takeoff weight: 2100 lbs
    horsepower: unknown. Rotax 912 plant.
    fuel capacity: 110 liters
    MPG: unknown. Apparently can stay aloft for 24 (or is it 40) hours.

    Link above.

  4. Yeah, I’m afraid to even imagine what new air travel rules might come out of this one! Just remember, folks: Had the ‘shoe bomber’ been the ‘underwear bomber’, flying as we know it would be a whole different experience. I’m sure a lot more of us would now be using the DIY approach, renting Cessnas and taking our chances against the F16s.

    “Ok, Ma, see that little thing down there, that’s the Capitol building! Fly AROUND it!!”

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