Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association spokesperson is unrealistic -- FAA slightly less so

From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association spokesperson is unrealistic -- FAA slightly less so
Cc:, governor of California, California Senators

October 30th, 2001

To Whom It May Concern,

The following letter was sent to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) in response to comments made by a spokesperson today, which are shown in the article forwarded to me by Bill Smirnow today.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA


To: Membership, AOPA
Date: October 30th, 2001
From: Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen (student pilot, soloed)
Re: Remarks by your spokesperson today regarding new airspace restrictions around nuclear power plants

To The Membership:

In an article available here:

Warren Morningstar, spokesperson for your organization, stated, "A small, general-aviation aircraft is not a significant risk to a nuclear facility."

That is patently untrue.  I would like to know his qualifications for making such a remark, and also I am interested in knowing when/if it will be retracted by the board or membership of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

General Aviation aircraft can easily be filled with high explosives, and even without that, they can be used to crash into Spent Fuel Pools or another of the many vulnerable areas of a nuclear power facility.  The plants are not nearly as robust as the nuclear industry claims, especially considering that many of the plants are several decades old, and are now suffering from some degree of embrittlement -- a problem most pilots are familiar with, especially pilots of jet turbine-powered aircraft.  The nuclear industry, on the other hand, is in denial about its embrittlement problems.

Here are some other dangers to nuclear power plants from General Aviation aircraft, a category which includes multi-engine jets as well as Piper Cubs:

Crop dusters can fog a nuclear power facility with gasoline on a still night, and then crash into the plant for a spark.

Private jets can demolish multiple "backup systems" or be smashed through the control room itself.

There are only two backup generators required, for example, for each plant, and these are usually located within the debris zone of a single airplane crash.

Even a balloonist could drop a "flechette" on a power plant's vitals.

Did Mr. Morningstar assess the dangers from multiple private plane strikes on a nuclear power plant, each one filled with something as simple as a Timothy McVeigh-style fertilizer explosive?

AOPA has to get realistic, just like everyone else in America, and spokespersons such as Warren Morningstar do not serve the public good, because every day we leave the nuclear plants open, they are vulnerable to a lot more than just airplane strikes.  The spent fuel will remain vulnerable for many millennia to come, and the pile grows by about 10 tons daily across the country (of High Level Radioactive Waste, and many times more of so-called "Low Level Radioactive Waste", which is just HLRW with filler added).

That's 10 new tons of "targets" that mustn't be hit under any circumstances, on purpose or by accident, or you'll wipe out a city at least, and maybe a whole state -- and maybe a good deal more.

Dry Storage Cask areas at nuclear power plants often look like public storage sheds from the air.  They too must be avoided in the event of a "landing away from an airport".

The truth is, airspace restrictions around nuclear power plants should have been done years ago, and these restrictions should be permanent as long as we have any nuclear waste above ground.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen (student pilot, soloed)
Carlsbad, CA

For more information on the vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants, please visit my web site:

This email was submitted here:


From: "Bill Smirnow" <>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 22:08:14 -0500
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit




      Planes Banned Near Nuclear Plants

            Updated: Tue, Oct 30 5:55 PM EST

      By JONATHAN D. SALANT, Associated Press

      WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Aviation
Administration temporarily banned private planes
from flying near nuclear power plants after
Attorney General John Ashcroft warned of possible
new terrorist attacks.

      The FAA on Tuesday imposed the restrictions
"for reasons of national security." The ban on
flying within 11 miles of 86 nuclear plants and
other nuclear sites such as the Sandia National
Laboratory in New Mexico expires Nov. 7.

      Also in response to Ashcroft's warning,
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta told his
department's administrators to make sure that the
trucking, aviation, railroad, shipping and other
industries maintained high levels of security.

      The ban on private flights near nuclear
power plants will force nearby small airports to
close, said Warren Morningstar, a spokesman for
the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

      "A small, general-aviation aircraft is not a
significant risk to a nuclear facility,"
Morningstar said. "On the other hand, we also have
to accept that there are serious national security
threats, and we will do our best to protect the
nation and keep people safe."

      Commercial airplanes, which fly at higher
altitudes, will not be affected. Nor will the ban
apply to medical, law enforcement, rescue and
firefighting operations when authorized by air
traffic controllers.

      The FAA also announced restrictions on
private planes because of the World Series. Only
pilots who file flight plans with the FAA will be
allowed to fly within 34 miles of John F. Kennedy
Airport in New York. The restrictions will be in
effect from 6:45 p.m. to 2 a.m. EST during all
World Series games played at Yankee Stadium.

      Bans remain in effect on all private planes
within 20 miles of Kennedy Airport or Reagan
Washington National Airport. In Boston, New York
and Washington, all private pilots must file
flight plans with the FAA.

      Blimps, news helicopters and banner-towing
planes remain grounded in 30 metropolitan areas.


      On the Net:

      Federal Aviation Administration:

      Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association:


Additional commentaries on this subject are posted here:
A response to my original letter from Warren Morningstar, AOPA VP is available here:

11th hour protest against nuclear power:

For more information please visit:

Learn about the effects of nuclear weapons here:

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First posted October 30th, 2001.

Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman