When Rich People Fly

I have a dispatch in the new issue of The Atlantic about "general aviation," and the complete lack of security at private airports across the country. Advocates of general aviation (this means you, Fallows) argue that the system is safe and self-regulating; Goldblog, on the other hand, sees a potential threat in this unmonitored space. Of course, this is a class issue as well; rich people (this does not mean you, Fallows) are able to buy their way out of the hassles of airport security. This would be fine, I suppose, if rich people were uniformly trustworthy, but they are not (Osama bin Laden is one who comes to mind). The dispatch is already getting some pushback, of course; one blogger titled his post on the subject "Jeffrey Goldberg, Fear Pumper," which is funny, because "fear pumper" is my porn name.

Here is an excerpt from my dispatch:

Fifteen minutes after leaving Manhattan, we arrived at the airport gate. A private security guard asked my friend for the tail number of our plane. He provided the number--or he provided a few digits of the number--and we were waved through, without an identification check. The plane, I should point out, didn't belong to my friend; it belonged to a company with which my friend's business does business. We drove to the terminal--operated by Signature Flight Support, a leading provider of general-aviation services--where we met our co-pilot, who escorted us to the plane.

"You're Mr. Goldba?" the co-pilot said to me.

"It's Goldberg," I said.

"Okay, the e-mail must have gotten cut off or something."

We continued to the plane. I asked my friend--let's refer to him as "Osama bin La"--if there would be any security check whatsoever before we went wheels-up. He laughed. "I think the law says we have to pat each other down."

"Do these pilots know you well?" I asked. "Is that why they trust you to bring me along?"

He first met them that morning, he said, when they flew him to Teterboro.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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