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Opinion: Foreign Nationals Learning to Fly Are a Danger to Military Installations

Ed Blitz: "In Egypt they're burning the American flag and in East County we are training their pilots to fly."

Editor's note: This letter to the editor is related to a recent decision by San Diego County supervisors to tighten security at flight schools that service foreign nationals.

To the editor:

In Egypt they're burning the American flag and in East County we are training their pilots to fly.

I am a member of Advocates For Safe Airport Policies (ASAP), a coalition of over 300 residents from El Cajon, Lakeside and Santee. There are over 11 flight schools operating in San Diego County. Seven of them operate out of Gillespie Field, three of which primarily train foreign nationals. Some of these foreign students could pose a national security threat.

At Gillespie Field, these students can't be tracked on radar until they reach 1600 to 1800 feet. They fly at times when the control tower is closed and unmanned.

They are very close to large U.S. military installations; Miramar Marine Air Station and North Island Naval Air Station are just two of them. Aircraft carriers are moored in San Diego Bay most of the time. Small aircraft can do a lot of destruction to these facilities. The Kamikazes of World War II were quite small and did an immense amount of damage.

The proximity of these flight schools to key defense installations is troubling. They should not be allowed to operate within 100 miles of any of them. This way aircraft could easily be located if they strayed out of their flight training area in plenty of time to intercept before they could be a threat.

All the security vetting that should take place before these people get in the cockpit can never give a 100 percent guarantee that they can be trusted. Moving them well away from prime military targets is the thing to do.

As Rep. Duncan Hunter stated at a recent meeting with ASAP: "Pilots from non-NATO countries should NOT be trained at Gillespie."

-Ed Blitz, member of the Advocates For Safe Airport Policies steering committee

Susan Blitz September 22, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Gilbert, Welcome back from researching crop circles in England!
Al Treadwell September 22, 2012 at 09:51 PM
In 1970 the airport and airway trust fund was established. The FAA gets its funds from there. The airport trust fund gets its money from taxes and landing fees on aviation users. I pay approx one dollar more a gallon for fuel for those taxes. It is tax money but the only people who pay the taxes are airport users. Yes and gillespie only makes a million a year in the down years. Hmmm. Gillespie and grants from the FAA will develope the 70 acres and the county will reap the benefits from the tax revenue from the businesses and it's employees.
PwmCwzy September 26, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I guess this issue is over and done. Personally I was very embarrassed to find out that several of the 9/11 hijackers lived and trained in San Diego County. Obviously all you ex-military Gillespie pilots have some covert tricks up your sleeves to stop it from happening again.
Susan Blitz September 27, 2012 at 03:11 AM
This issue is not over and done, at least not for ASAP. We are more energized than ever before. The guys who are protesting here are far more interested in their wallets than they are in the security, safety, and well being of the communities in which they live. How dare we question them? The arrogance is overwhelming.
Al Treadwell September 27, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I have no financial gain????? I am a PILOT stating facts!

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