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

Chris September 20, 2012 at 07:14 PM
"Another solution please move the flight schools to Romona" What possible difference would it make to move the flight schools to Ramona? Why not move the schools to the MAB itself--the security would be tighter, and your precious Homeland Insecurity would be right there to monitor. "Better yet have the foreign instructors go teach these non-nato friendly students...[in] their own country." We already do--it's called the CIA. "Maybe that would free up some tax money for a new Hospitial in East County" There was one. It failed and closed. THAT would be the waste of taxpayer money.
ED Blitz September 20, 2012 at 09:18 PM
How fast you forget 9/11. How fast you forget that two pilots were trained in San Diego County. But I guess your financial interests at Gillespie Field far outway the security of our nation.
Chris September 20, 2012 at 10:58 PM
What has 9/11 to do with this? An ugly truth of the matter is that if the passengers would have had the balls to neutralize the hijackers--who were weilding box cutters--we would still have the towers and many, many saved lives. The passengers on the second plane did so and averted the destruction of the Pentagon. People will learn to fly planes whether or not they are taught at Gillespie Field. Outweigh interests in our national security? Maybe if they didn't have their thumbs firmly up their rectums, National Security agencies might actually get something right and not vet these people in the first place as potential threats.
Rob Treadwell September 20, 2012 at 11:51 PM
I believe that our freedoms are meant for everybody, and that whatever God you believe in would say that those freedoms are inherent in our creation as human beings regardless of where we were born. But if you disagree then tear it down, the statue I mean. My immigrant ancestors were of all kinds of undesirable stock... my mother a communist / socialist Yugoslav. I am surprised they let her in. My Communist Yugoslav Grandfather fought the Germans, married my German Grandmother after he was released from German Prison Camp and immigrated to the US where he had sons who proudly served in the US Navy. My Dad was in the Air Force and I am surprised he could get over my mother's communist / Fascist nature to father my brother and me... We've fought the German's, the Italians, the Japanese, the Spanish, the Koreans, The Vietnamese, and more... We fought the British, for God's sake, to get the country you propose to protect... I am not naive, I don't believe that pilots should not be vetted by homeland security and the FAA but I believe the ideals of equality set forth in our constitution are for everyone or have no real value to anyone. I have to say it because I love and respect my mother, father, grandfather, uncles..... Lock the doors and hide under your beds....
PwmCwzy September 21, 2012 at 12:03 AM
http://santee.patch.com/articles/security-tightening-at-gillespie-field-flight-schools-that-service-foreign-nationals Mary 10:11 am on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 To me this is a big deal for Santee residents. Do we need to worry that the constant buzzing overhead might be training the next terrorists? H.R. 6159: To amend title 49, United States Code, to require that individuals seeking training in the operation of certain aircraft be CHECKED AGAINST THE TERRORIST WATCHLIST TO ENSURE THAT SUCH INDIVIDUALS ARE NON-THREATS TO AVIATION. Wonder why HR6159 hasn’t even moved out of Committee? Could it be that it was introduced by a Democratic Congressman and has 18 Democratic co-sponsors. The Republican Committee Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security determines whether a bill will move past the committee stage. PwmCwzy 1:45 pm on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 This legislation should be HIGH PRIORITY. Why aren't the Republicans worried about our safety and moving on it?
PwmCwzy September 21, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Your article says: “Rep. Duncan Hunter stated at a recent meeting with ASAP: "Pilots from non-NATO countries should NOT be trained at Gillespie." Why hasn’t he pushed H.R. 6159 thru the Republican majority Congress?
Chris September 21, 2012 at 01:41 AM
"To me this is a big deal for Santee residents. Do we need to worry that the constant buzzing overhead might be training the next terrorists?" And to me this is pissy little people who have only recently moved into the city and are whining because of the so called "noise".
Robert Germann September 21, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Al, You know as well as I do that Scandanavia Aviation Acedemy has a contract with China to train Chinas airforce. The same school trained Pakistains air force in 2007. Thats when the compliants started.Gillespie was nice LITTLE recreational airport. It is now a detrament to the community with saftey issues, security issues just to name a few. General Aviation is dying this is the only way the" good old boys" at Gillespie can make a buck, No taxpayer money for Gillespie!
Thomas Hendrickson September 21, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Ronn, 49% is a large minority, have you no concept of political reality?
Chris September 21, 2012 at 04:05 AM
No taxpayer money for fire departments! They allow buildings to burn to the ground! No taxpayer money for police! They don't always catch criminals! No taxpayer money for transit!They bring criminals into the community from Mexico! At least this way we can give it all to those union pension jackwads and politicians that sit around defrauding our citizens and take lobby bribes from groups like ASAP.
PwmCwzy September 21, 2012 at 06:37 AM
@Chris - I am not NEW to Santee thank you! There is no reason that we shouldn't have legislation and have it ASAP. It is a no brainer.
PwmCwzy September 21, 2012 at 06:41 AM
@Chris A little convoluted don't you think?
Al Treadwell September 21, 2012 at 02:10 PM
There is no tax money used at Gillespie as a matter of fact it funds all the airports in SD County. Gillespie field is self supporting.
PwmCwzy September 21, 2012 at 04:57 PM
No one said close Gillespie field, just screen those students from foreign countries. If they don't pass the test, let them learn to fly in their home countries. Because two of the 9/11 terrorists were trained here in San Diego County I would think the populus would want to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Susan Blitz September 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Correct, NO one is saying close Gillespie Field. I am a member of ASAP, Advocates for Safe Airport Practices. ASAP has never called for the closure of Gillespie. That is a falsehood being spread by Al Treadwell, although I have emailed his group and posted on Facebook that ASAP wants Gillespie to be good neighbors -- just not the rude and dangerous place they've become. Why doesn't SAA -- Scandinavian Air Academy -- train China's pilots in China or Sweden? Why is it being done over heavily populated areas, near water supplies and military installations? Because a few people are making a lot of money at the expense of the rest of us, that's why.
Al Treadwell September 21, 2012 at 10:34 PM
NO ONE is against screening the students from foreing countries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Al Treadwell September 21, 2012 at 10:34 PM
NO ONE is against screening the students from foreing countries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Al Treadwell September 21, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Please!!! You have made so many false claims against Gillespie I don't know where to start. This is just the latest. We pilots are mostly veterans and care every bit as much about the safety as you. We just happen to stick with facts and not spread rumors and falsehoods about Gillespie.
Chris September 21, 2012 at 11:37 PM
"A little convoluted don't you think?" This whole non-issue is convoluted.
Chris September 21, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Al, these are the guys on the ferris wheel with binoculars looking for Kamakazi bombers.
PwmCwzy September 22, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Then lets get Duncan Hunter to push it thru, to make it a requirement. Oh wait, a Democrat introduced the bill. Hunter wouldn't possibly agree.
Susan Blitz September 22, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Al, which one of these claims is false? Gillespie had 208,000 operations last year, more than Lindbergh. At Gillespie there is no curfew, no noise abatement procedures, no emissions monitoring, no one in the tower after 9 p.m., no effective procedure for complaints, and no way to enforce complaints. AAA was recently sued by Descanso residents because of students flying low over their homes. AAA denied doing this until the lawyers produced photos with tail numbers. SAA plans to enroll up to 400 students by the end of next year, most of them from China, where the line between commercial and military pilots is blurred. ASAP doesn't need to make up false claims. The truth is far more disturbing.
Al Treadwell September 22, 2012 at 04:30 AM
FACTS: The number of operations are down over the same period in the 1970s. This years numbers are lower than last year. China and no other country is going to train military pilots in a Cessna 152 in someone else's country. Are you crazy! You probably don't know this but they actually have a military with airplanes that fly and real airports. These kids are students ie college, that are learning how to fly to become airline pilots just like a student goes to college in the US to be a doctor! Most airports in the US do not have towers. We are lucky we actually have one. You and ASAP are disturbing. I really think there should be a curfew on cars because they annoy me driving on my street after 9pm. I will tell life flight and Astrea to stay on the ground when you need them at 1am. We actually have lights and we actually fly in the dark. We pilots actually must stay proficient so we are required by law to do 3 full stop landings in the dark every 90 days. Multiply that by the number of airplanes at Gillespie and you now know why you should move.
Gillbert Pea September 22, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I am so proud that there are people who see what is really going on in this country. Since Obama has been president, the Chinese have taken over, and it is a well known fact that some of the 9/11 attackers were really Chinese with toothpicks in their eyelids to make them LOOK Arabic. From birth, Chinese are taught to hate America and there is a video of them in elementary schools yelling, "Allah Akbar!" while drawing diagrams of bomber cockpits and studying charts of key western locations. It's not a coincidence that they ONLY want male children. The investigation into these flight schools has yet to scratch the surface, but rumor has it that one of those "little" airplanes is being secretly fitted to be able to haul up to 100,000 pounds of payload. Just coincidence? I think NOT! Just think what 100,000 pounds of explosives would do...in an innocent looking Piper Cub. We are foolish if we think this is not happening! Al...wake up and quit inhaling the airplane gas. ASAP is our last line of defense in an otherwise troubling world.
ED Blitz September 22, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Talk about falsehoods and bogus statements…. I have been a CPA for more than 45 years and have worked with some of the largest corporations in the nation. To state that Gillespie is self-funding, helps to support other county airports and uses no taxpayer money is completely misleading. I reviewed the financial budget for Gillespie as stated on May 15, 2012. Gillespie does support its annual operations. Its estimated income for fiscal year 12/13 is about $6.4 million and estimated expenses are about $5.4 million, thus leaving a surplus of about $1 million, hardly enough to support the losses at the other county airports. However, and this fact is repeatedly ignored, there are millions of dollars spent on capital improvements which are not funded by any operating surplus. Major capital improvements are funded by the FAA, Sandag or similar agencies. Millions of dollars have been spent already with millions more needed for capital improvements. For example, the 70 acre redevelopment will require enormous sums of money which the annual operations of Gillespie can’t possibly cover. And let’s not forget the cost to clean up the toxic waste left by former tenants at Gillespie. And finally, please stop saying that Gillespie uses no taxpayer funds. The funds from the FAA, Sandag and other grants come from taxpayer money and thus is publicly supported.
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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