Whistleblower pilot says he may go public this week

11:20 PM, Dec 26, 2010   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - The Placer County airline pilot whose federally-issued gun and badge were confiscated after he posted video on YouTube critical of airport security, said he may reveal his identity this week.

PHOTOS: YouTube video shows airport security gaps

The 50-year-old pilot, who had previously asked News10 not to identify him or his airline, said he hoped to be in a position where he "could safely come out of the shadows."

The pilot made the announcement on a Website called Patriot Pilot that he and his attorney, Don Werno, published Christmas Day.

"I look forward to fully joining the debate on the national security problems that I helped to expose through my YouTube videos," the pilot wrote.

The pilot posted the videos to shed light on the security gaps he believes exist at major U.S. airports.

"If something happens, another 9-11 incident, you know, if five or six, 10 planes come out of the sky, that will really bring the economy to a screeching halt," said the airline pilot. "You think the housing collapse was bad, after 9-11 I remember nothing happened, not even air travel.  Nobody moved anywhere."

Werno told News10 the pilot was still concerned about possible retaliation from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), even though a TSA representative told Werno last week the investigation of his client would end with his resignation as a Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO).

Werno said he was also taking steps to protect his client's job with the airline.

"Clearly, from the worldwide response my story has received, I have really made people at the TSA angry," the pilot wrote on his Website.

Two days after TSA staff discovered the series of six videos on YouTube, a team of six federal agents and Placer County sheriff's deputies arrived at the pilot's home to take the pilot's FFDO handgun and badge.

A sheriff's deputy also took the pilot's state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon (CCW).

The pilot provided News10 with video of the exchange on his driveway, which he recorded on a camera positioned at an upstairs window.

Placer County sheriff's spokeswoman Dena Erwin told News10  two deputies accompanied four federal agents in a marked sheriff's car following a formal request from the federal government. She said the federal agents included members of an anti-terrorism task force.

She said the pilot's CCW was suspended as a result of the federal investigation and the status was still under review.

At Sacramento International Airport Sunday night, a flight attendant who wanted to remain anonymous, said she agreed with the pilot's assessment of ground crew security. "I fly two-three days at a time and have to go through security every single day, show the i.d. and go through all of that and then we have all of our cabin service and ramp agents going in and out and all they have to do is swipe a badge on the door and there's no security screening whatsoever," said the American Airlines worker, who wanted to be identified only by her first name, Teri. 

Another airport worker, a groundcrew member, told News Ten she took issue with the pilot's claims. "We get the enhanced patdowns in the back doors, the back areas. We get random badge checks, you know, constantly," said the worker who wanted to be known only by her first name of Janice.

The pilot said he's aware there are some security measures in place, but stands by his concerns with TSA security.

"They've got a choice. They're either fixing it or lying, and they're actually choosing to lie about it," he said. 

By George Warren, GWarren@news10.net


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