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Captain David Mackett

Sunday, May 1st, 2005

Captain David Mackett, President of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance (APSA), is the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month for May.
 In nominating Captain Mackett for the Award, John Michael Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, said that, “one of the issues with which we have been most concerned in recent years is the arming of qualified commercial airline pilots.  In fact, after the airline suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, CCRKBA was the first organization to call publicly for the arming of these men and women.  We think it is absolutely insane for the government, through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), to prevent this.
 “We’ve worked with Dave and other spokesmen for pilots’ organizations on legislation to rectify this situation.  Some of this legislation has been signed into law but the TSA keeps dragging its feet on this issue.  Fortunately, Dave is not letting up on this issue and neither are we.  We’ve already received assurance that legislation will be introduced again this year in Congress to ensure that qualified volunteer commercial airline pilots are armed in the cockpit.  Dave has been and is working hard to make sure this reasonable policy finally is adopted by the powers that be.  Our hats are off to him. He certainly deserves to receive a CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month Award.”
 Captain Mackett, whose group, APSA, was formed specifically to lobby for guns in the cockpit, says tens of thousands of his colleagues are interested in the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program which began two years ago.  Between 4,000 and 4,500 pilots have been trained and deputized to carry guns in the program, but that is just a fraction of the 95,000 pilots who fly for U.S. airlines.
 “We have an armed pilots program that’s arming very few pilots,” says Mackett, who hasn’t signed up because of the way the program is run.  He told the Associated Press the TSA isn’t moving to get substantially more pilots to carry guns because it has never really wanted the program.
 Pilots must volunteer, take a psychological test and complete a week-long firearm training program run by the government to keep a gun in the cockpit.  Mackett says it can take from two months to a year to get a gun from the time an online application is submitted.  Some pilots never even hear back from TSA.
 Mackett says the psychological testing and background checks are unnecessary because pilots already have been carefully vetted by their airlines to be able to fly commercial jets.
 Dave wants Congress to enact legislation “to fix serious deficiencies in the present FFDO program, deficiencies that have kept airline pilots from volunteering by the tens of thousands to be armed.
 “While none of us truly relishes the new responsibilities that come with being a commercial airline pilot in the post-9/11 world, we all know the realities, realities that include a much-improved but still porous airport security program, and a terrorist threat that still sees commercial aviation as an attractive target.  As airline pilots, our fundamental mission remains the same: get our passengers, our crew, and our cargo safely to its destination.  It is unfortunate but true that fulfilling that mission now requires new tools, including an armed cockpit.”
 Dave was born in Bitburg, Germany in 1963.  His dad was a career U.S. Air Force officer stationed there.  Growing up, Dave and the family moved a lot with the Air Force, living in both domestic and international cities.
 He graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Aviation Engineering and a double specialization and was selected to fly the university corporate aircraft when Ohio State officials required air travel.  Dave informs Point Blank that he is a graduate of Level Two of the three levels of the defensive tactics program taught to United States Special Warfare Teams and “also of a nationally recognized small arms training school.  I am a lifetime member of a national level firearms academy and expect to attain instructor status in the Kobushi Sessen Jutsu system of close quarters defensive tactics later this year, workload permitting.”
 Dave has 20 years’ flying experience and has been flying the Boeing 737 for the last 10 years.