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Thread: 09-04-2014 DFW [Positive]

  1. #1
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    Thumbs up 09-04-2014 DFW [Positive]

    Greetings Friends--Chiming in with a quick positive (albeit embarrassing) experience from DFW.

    This morning I rolled in to Founder's Plaza (DFW's airport observation area) around 7:30am with my dog. There's a large field immediately adjacent to the plaza, and I've brought our dog there several times before. There's never anyone out there (now I know why--but there are no signs restricting access to the area). I've been confident that I can bring the dog out there and not bother anyone. Dog gets exercise, I get to see planes, nobody bothered, win-win-win.

    I was walking the dog a few feet from the fence to try and get her close to a UPS MD-11 that was about to taxi nearby. I've done this at other airports in an attempt to help her become comfortable with loud noises. I imagine you guys may have a nice laugh at my blissful ignorance in being close to an airport perimeter fence.

    I'd been there about twenty minutes when I turned around and noticed a DFW police officer waving me over from across the field. She had a curt but professional demeanor as she asked what I was doing and if my dog would bite her (it's an 8-month-old lab mix whose friendly desire for lovin' is sometimes understandably mistaken for aggression). I identified myself as a student pilot who likes watching airplanes, motioned to the dog, and described my aforementioned purposes for being there. She asked for my driver's license, checked me for warrants, then escorted me back to the picnic tables at Founders Plaza. Her back-up officer evidently felt I was enough of a threat to just sit in his car and watch.

    I got a polite (though perhaps not factual) lecture about how they'd received "probably ten" calls about me, that as a student pilot I should know I can't be so close to an airport fence, and that they could press charges for me being there. (I just moved from an area of the country where I became comfortable with hanging out just outside airport fences, and chatting with local LEOs that stopped by to say hi.)

    I asked the officer where I was allowed to be with the dog and she advised me to stay right at the park and not go up to the fenceline anymore. She gave my ID back and left with her back-up officer, and I hung out at the park a bit longer before leaving.

    I felt embarrassed about the PD having to come out and that I probably reflected negatively on spotters for not staying within the confines of the park. The officer was professional and I believe she was understanding, and I hope my polite and cooperative demeanor will have some positive reflection on our hobby. I am also grateful people are keeping enough of an eye on the perimeter to call the PD when they see something they don't like.

    [In case anyone finds it interesting, I'll add a short personal reflection. I have worked in various positions at local law enforcement agencies for three years now. I started writing parking tickets just out of high school, eventually attended police academy, and worked on the street as a police officer. I was still blissfully ignorant about being perceived as a threat this morning. I have written hundreds of citations at various levels, taken people to jail, and have many good friends who are cops. Despite this, I still got a bad case of the jitters during my simple, non-threatening interaction with the officer this morning.

    I think many of the negative experiences involving law enforcement are due to a lack of empathy, occurring somewhat on both sides. The general public struggles to understand the lethal threats faced by law enforcement officers day-in and day-out, and that often what seems like rude or blunt behavior from an officer is what allows that officer to return to their family each night. Additionally, many officers struggle to understand the effect that even their small actions have on the general, law-abiding public. There's no easy solution to it, but in lieu of recent national events, I feel that this is an important point. There are both success stories and problems to be fixed in just about any area--medicine, aviation, law enforcement--but for the average, day-to-day encounters, striving to 'put ourselves in other people's shoes,' as it were, can really help.]
    Last edited by FlightShadow; 09-04-2014 at 10:17 AM. Reason: clarity

  2. #2
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    I never understood the fence thing. Some places claim to have a rule about being "x" number of feet from an airport fence.... if you don't want people near the fence, then make a 2nd fence. You're telling me I need to keep away from the very thing that's made to keep me away from something? Clearly the fence is not enough if you can't go near THAT, too.
    Last edited by PhilDernerJr; 09-04-2014 at 11:55 AM.
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

  3. #3
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    Can't wait for the day when there are no windows in the terminal, no windows on the plane, and 15-foot-high solid concrete perimeter walls surrounding airports. The epitome of "nothing to see here unless you're a terrorist"

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mateo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil D. View Post
    I never understood the fence thing. Some places claim to have a rule about being "x" number of feet from an airport fence.... if you don't want people near the fence, then make a 2nd fence. You're telling me I need to keep away from the very thing that's made to keep me away from something? Clearly the fence is not enough if you can't go near THAT, too.
    You're not allowed to have parking within X feet of a fence or Y feet of a terminal building (I'd have to look up the exact numbers), but there's no FAA rule on not existing with Z feet of a perimeter fence. LEOs playing Calvinball, well, there's nothing you can do to stop that.

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