Although I've written about aviation for over 20 years now, I rarely write about it on The Atlantic's site because Jim Fallows already does such an excellent job of covering the topic here. But I do want to add a few words to what Jim's already said (all of which I wholeheartedly agree with) in response to Jeffrey Goldberg's "Private Plane, Public Menace" dispatch piece that ran in this month's Atlantic.
After getting a ride in a friend's corporate jet, Goldberg concludes that privileged "general aviation" airplanes threaten national security because their passengers aren't subject to the same TSA security that airline passengers are, and he argues that we need to impose that kind of security at general aviation facilities and airports.
I disagree with Goldberg's position on a couple of different levels. First, his description of what constitutes "general aviation" is skewed. And second, attempts to impose TSA-type security at small airports are not only, as Jim said, "wrongheaded" -- akin to attacking a fly with a clumsy and ineffective sledgehammer -- but they are also destroying one of the most valuable resources that airports offer America.
To understand why I agree with Jim that TSA-style security measures are neither required in the world of general aviation, nor the best approach to what security risk does exist in that world, it helps to understand, first, what "general aviation" really is. From there, it's easier to understand why the risk is not what many people imagine, as well as what's wrong with taking a TSA approach to security for every airplane and every airport across America.