Crop Dusting Aircraft : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Crop Dusters [,8599,175951,00.html] Time magazine reports that "law enforcement officials have found a manual on the operation of cropdusting equipment while searching suspected terrorist hideouts." Officials believe the terrorists may have intended to use the crop dusters to spray chemical or biological weapons in the air. "The discovery resulted in the grounding of all cropdusters nationwide on Sunday Sept. 16th. The dusters have been allowed back up, but are not allowed to take off or land from what traffic controllers refer to as Class B airspace, or the skies around major cities." ABC News [] reports that more than a dozen men, including Mohammad Atta, believed to be the ringleader of the Sept. 11 gang, visited a Florida airfield, "asking lots of questions on topics including how many chemicals a crop dusting plane could hold."

-- Rich Marsh (, September 24, 2001


U.S. grounds crop-dusters due to attack risk

By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Monday crop-dusting planes were grounded at least until midnight (0400 GMT on Tuesday) in the United States due to concerns they could be used in a chemical or biological attack.

"Yesterday, the FBI issued a nationwide alert based on information they received indicating the possibility of attacks using crop- dusting aircraft," Ashcroft said in testimony to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

"The FBI assesses the uses of this type of aircraft to distribute chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction as potential threats to Americans. We have no clear indication of the time or place of such attacks," he said.

Ashcroft confirmed reports that one of the suspected hijackers involved in the attack on the World Trade Center, Mohamed Atta, was gathering information on the use of crop-dusting aircraft prior to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, in which up to 7,000 people are missing or dead.

In addition, Ashcroft said a search of computers, computer discs and personal baggage of another person in custody revealed a "significant amount" of information downloaded from the Internet on the use of aerial applications of pesticides or crop-dusting.


Ashcroft said the FBI had strongly recommended that state, local and other federal law enforcement organizations take steps to identify crop-dusting aircraft in their areas and to make sure they were secure.

In addition, he appealed to the public to immediately notify the FBI of any "suspicious circumstances" regarding crop-dusting aircraft.

Earlier, the Federal Aviation Administration said it had extended a ban made on Sunday on the use of crop-duster and agricultural planes in the United States until 12:05 a.m. local time on Tuesday in all time zones of the United States.

"The ban covers any aircraft equipped for agricultural and crop- dusting operations. This is for national security reasons," said FAA spokesman Fraser Jones said.

Jones said the only exception would be for aircraft used for firefighting and even these flights would be tightly controlled.

In a message posted on the web site of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, which represents crop-dusting operators, the FBI told members to be "vigilant to any suspicious activity related to the use, training in or acquisition of dangerous chemicals or airborne application of them."

There are an estimated 5,000 crop-dusting planes in the United States and about half as many operators, said James Callan, executive director of the association representing crop-dusters.

Callan said his organization was cooperating fully with authorities in their investigation. "(Crop-dusters) have never been used for any illicit purpose. There is apparently no specific or immediate threat, said Callan.

In Florida, the manager of a plane company told Reuters that suspected hijacker Atta had visited the Belle Glade Municipal Airport in western Palm Beach County at least twice in the two months before the Sept. 11 attacks, asking about the crop-duster planes.

"He was asking a lot of questions about how much fuel they haul, how fast they go, how much they hold," the company's general manager, Willie Lee, said.

Lee said several other Arab men also stopped by the tiny airport to ask about the crop-dusters.

-- Jackson Brown (, September 24, 2001.

Because these planes fly below radar, they could be used as bombs,rather than a source of infection. They are small enough to land and takeoff from a level stretch of highway.

-- John Littmann (, September 24, 2001.

All small "general aviation" aircraft have the capability of being used as suicide bombs. They have less kilotonnage; but there ares so many of them, in the hands of private individuals, not large airline companies. Pilot license requirements are less stringent. There's even such a thing as an "air moped", an aircraft so small that NO license at all is required to fly it. (Or has this law been changed?) The threat is very substantial, as even small airplane bombs, properly targeted, can cause enormous harm. Critical targets must be properly guarded with anti-aircraft defense. To get around such security, terrorists can also crash them randomly into heavily populated areas. This would terrorize cities psychologically, far beyond the actual casualties inflicted.

It's time for concerned patriotic Americans that own appropriate firearms to get them loaded, and prepare to defend America's homeland, if such events begin to occur. The advantages to terrorists of these small aircraft is somewhat offset by their greater vulnerability to defensive anti-aircraft fire from weapons that citizens can legally own (in some states).

Has the Government issued guidelines yet as to when citizens should and should not fire upon suspiciously behaving small aircraft? It is the duty of every citizen to help in the homeland Defense, but shooting down an innocent aircraft mistakenly is also a potential tragedy that needs to be avoided.

Are heightened security and background checks of persons with small aircraft flight licenses being done? Are flight schools and instructors participating in this effort? Has there been action to eliminate the "air moped" loophole?

If this isn't being done, then is the Government properly managing this War Against Terrorism? Such failure would be evidence of (at best) serious misallocation of resources.

-- Robert Riggs (, September 25, 2001.

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