An airline industry that's safe, efficient will...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

An airline industry that's safe, efficient will not be cheap

As an airline pilot, I read with interest the article "Security starts with the ticket" (Sept. 30). It seems that somebody is finally realizing what we who make the airline industry work have known all along: Flying isn't supposed to be cheap.

We take 150 passengers in an incredibly complex, $30-million machine at nearly the speed of sound through the atmosphere where it's 65 degrees below zero outside. We arrive after an instrument approach in conditions in which most people wouldn't drive their cars.

Those flying this machine have years of education, very specific training and cannot be replaced; the airlines must fight terrorists and keep drunks from hurting themselves or anyone else on board.

People demand a seat assignment, a meal and to arrive within mere minutes of the published schedule on a flight of 3,000 miles; that's impossible on any other mode of transportation.

What do you expect to happen at security checkpoints when the airlines are busy just trying to figure out how to finance such a complex operation?

Deregulation and the free market have nearly destroyed the airline industry. The only way to rebuild it is for Congress and travelers to realize there's one law that all of us must obey: You get what you pay for.

Andrew Cleveland

Reisterstown

The airline industry needs to make immediate changes

In light of recent terrorist attacks, one thing is certain: The airline industry will never be the same. Change is imminent.

Three critical changes must take place immediately:

Cockpit doors must be strengthened, making it virtually impossible for an intruder to enter the flight deck.

Pilots should be armed with either a stun gun or a small firearm. Many pilots like myself are already certified to carry a firearm. Special bullets could be used that are designed to cripple a hijacker but not penetrate the aircraft fuselage.

The federal air marshal program must be expanded.

Along with more than 10,000 other pilots, I am facing furlough this fall as a result of the airline cutbacks. The government would be wise to hire laid-off pilots as a part of the air marshal program.

Together we can restore public confidence in the airlines and resume a full and safer schedule by Christmas.

Jim Lumley

Baltimore

The writer is a pilot for US Airways.

This just isn't the time to bash the president

Michael Olesker's column "After attacks, nation must still agree to disagree" (Oct. 2) was just as untimely as Mark Miller's book The Bush Dyslexicon.

This is a time for unity, not president-bashing, and it shouldn't surprise either of these two gentlemen that the book is not being well received at a time like this.

It's not freedom of speech that is in question here. Shame on the two of them for bringing themselves to the forefront, at this delicate time, with this type of inconsequential garbage.

Dick Bielski

Towson

It was the terrorists who declared war on us

As to Rep. Barbara Lee trying to justify her vote against a war resolution in Congress ("Congresswoman: Why I voted against war," Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 5), let it be noted that 434 of her peers in Congress disagreed with her (that's 434 out of 435).

Also, the terrorists couldn't care less what she believes or does not believe; their only intention is for her to die.

They have declared war on us, not the reverse -- and our only choices are to die or fight back.

Edward H. M. Dunker

Baltimore

Concern for the innocent must guide our response

We are better than those who attack innocent, defenseless people. We must choose not to learn bad lessons: Osama bin Laden and those like him are not our teachers.

We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that atrocities never again occur on American soil. But we should prove we are better by not fueling our acts with hatred and revenge, but with concern for the innocent and respect for the dead.

Kevin Flynn

Glen Burnie

New approach to energy is now a responsibility

I concur completely with the recent letter "Attacks provide good reason to find energy alternatives" (Sept. 28).

We also should have a sea change in our vision of the future, with conservation leading us into a sustainable way of life. It is no longer a choice to consider, but a responsibility to carry out -- for our children and our poor, plundered earth.

Peggy M. McLean

Baltimore

Ordinary citizens emerge as the attacks' real heroes

Firefighters, policemen and military personnel deserve our admiration and thanks, but they are trained and paid to do what they do ("Redefining where we look for our heroes," Oct. 1).

The real heroes of the terrorist attack were ordinary individual citizens who found themselves in peril and reacted with courage. I'm thinking in particular of the passengers on Flight 93 who apparently rushed the cockpit to foil the terrorists' plan to inflict further damage. Or the World Trade Center workers who helped less able workers exit the buildings.

Maybe we all have the seed of heroism, if confronted with a desperate situation that calls for action we would probably never consider otherwise.

Skip McAfee

Columbia

Travelers refuse to be casualties of the attacks

As president of Diversions Inc., a company that does several hundred bus trips a year to New York as well as to Washington, Philadelphia and other points of interest along the East Coast, I must react to The Sun's article "Bus tours of N.Y. brought to a halt" (Sept. 30).

Since Sept. 11, our membership of 2,300 families has responded with firm resolve and commitment to continue their plans and trips. Since Sept. 11, we have filled multiple bus trips to New York and Washington, and through the end of the year we will be transporting 2,500 more people to those cities.

We have had virtually no more cancellations than usual, and our plans for foreign travel are still heavily subscribed.

It is with pride that we and our membership carry on rather than run for cover. Our patrons and our businesses are determined to resist becoming a casualty of what was a senseless onslaught.

Lenore Shapiro

Baltimore

Spending money isn't key to patriotism

I chuckled when I read in one of the letters titled "Wounded nation must turn attention back to business" (Oct. 4 ) that "Business drives our economy, provides jobs and generates the tax revenues that run government."

I chuckled because, in my opinion, business is more and more driving foreign economies, not ours.

My need to curtail spending started before Sept. 11. It is driven by the fact that we are losing jobs to cheap, offshore labor.

Spending is not an action that I feel I have to take to show that I support my country. I love my country and it doesn't cost me a dime to fly my flag high.

Carrie Will

Westminster

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