Testimony before the NTSB on June 9 revealed an interesting subplot to the story of the USAir Flight 1549 ditching earlier this year. After the evacuation of the airplane, the life rafts, which were tethered to the fuselage, could not be cut free. The sinking aircraft threatened to drag the passengers under! Finally, a knife was tossed from a ferry, and of course the story has a happy ending.
Prior to the rule change in late 2001, I carried a folding knife when flying for exactly this kind of reason. I’m not a crazy survivalist and I don’t think I will ever experience a plane crash, but I’ve been in enough airplanes, boats, and theatres to know that when things go badly wrong and duct tape won’t fix it, a knife probably will. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
I can appreciate why, in the chaotic early days of the TSA, a ban on knives in aircraft made sense. But those days have passed. Airplanes are now fortified with bulletproof (hence knife-proof) cockpit doors. Thousands of flights per day are supposedly guarded by air marshals. And frankly, attitudes have changed such that anyone who makes a threat in flight is likely to get a swift ass-kicking from fellow passengers.
It is time for someone over there to admit that knives, like bottled water and toothpaste, are not a threat to national security. Let’s quit the security theatre and get on with our lives.
P.S.—The House, led (incredibly) by a freshman Republican from Utah, recently voted to block the TSA’s planned use of naked body scans at security checkpoints. Woohoo! Surprisingly, this issue has also attracted scant attention from the press.