News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Theft of jet in Florida raises real concerns about security

Police arrested a 22-year-old Georgia man Wednesday in connection with a charter jet that went missing from a St. Augustine, Fla., airport early Sunday morning.

The plane landed at Gwinnett County Airport-Briscoe Field, 350 miles away, Sunday morning, and was discovered there Monday, police said.

Authorities found no evidence of drugs or weapons on the $7 million, 10-passenger Cessna Citation 7, and have ruled out "anything diabolical or sinister," they say.

But the theft by an unauthorized pilot raises serious questions about homeland security in general and aviation security in particular.

Also troubling is the fact that Daniel Andrew Wolcott, who is charged with felony theft and five misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct, was apparently not alone. Police said they got their break in the case when they spoke with five other people who said they were on the plane when Wolcott flew it.

Federal authorities are investigating to determine how the unauthorized pilot obtained control of the jet, owned by Pinnacle Air of Springdale, Ark.

A manager at St. Augustine Airport listed three ways to get into the airport after midnight: fly in on another plane, use a key for authorized access or climb the fence.

If it is that easy for an unauthorized person to gain access to and take off with a jet, while airport security personnel elsewhere are denying access to properly ticketed lawmakers and infants, we need to rethink how we appropriate homeland security funds.

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