Federal Policy Brings Down Another Airliner in New York

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The actions of Chesley Sullenberger in saving the lives of passengers on US Airways flight 1546 are exemplary, and he has earned the gratitude of everyone aboard. (Why the writer would propose to waste such a talented individual and make him "the front runner to replace Hillary Clinton as New York’s junior United States Senator" is beyond me.) He has also earned the gratitude of citizens in the city where people have learned to look to the airplanes in the sky with fear, a fear that arose because static Federal bureaucratic policies proscribed arming pilots and prescribed disarming passengers, leading to the disaster on 9/11.

Early reports indicate that the plane’s engines might have been disabled because a flock of geese intercepted its flight path, with large birds being sucked into both engines depriving of them of the power to maintain flight. On January 15th, one would think, most migratory waterfowl like geese would have flown south for the winter. Where, then, did these birds come from? The New York Times reports "Canada geese, a frequent visitor to golf courses and open spaces in the metropolitan New York area during the winter, pose a particular danger to planes because of their size. The impact of a 12 pound bird hitting a plane traveling at 150 miles per hour is equal to that of a 1,000 pound weight dropped from a height of 10 feet, according to experts on bird strikes."

The answer begins to reveal itself. The same geese that foul the pathways of suburban Westchester might just have caused this crash. The issue is not a new one; in fact, as Gail Collins wrote in 1999 about future suburban resident Hillary Clinton, "Like the president, geese are especially attracted to golf courses. Westchester County, where the Clintons have purchased a $1.7 million home, has more than 60 courses. This is an area under siege by fowl who appreciate the virtues of waterfront property and well-manicured lawns…Many of the first lady’s future neighbors seemed ready to follow any politician who would promise to make the resident waterfowl go back to migrating."

And why should "neighbors" support "politician(s)" who would make waterfowl migrate, something birds would normally undertake on their own? Well, the "Canada" geese are presumably migratory, and are covered by treaties: in other words, they are under the control of the Federal Government, which protects them from any harm. The fact that they do not migrate is immaterial: no state or local government can harm them in parks, and no private landowner of a golf course can shoot, trap or harass them from his property. Once again, uniform Federal rules have usurped local control and private property rights; thankfully, an accountable private airline’s pilot was there to protect us from our protectors.

Thomas M. Schmidt [send him mail], a native of Brooklyn, has swerved out of the path of many a goose dropping, and wonders why no one has surreptitiously introduced foxes to the golf courses and parks.

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