Would you squawk 7500?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach

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    Ok, sometimes odd things pop into my head when I am lying awake at night.

    Last night, I was thinking about what to do in the event that some wack job showed up at the hangar with a gun. (Answer - throw the keys at him/her/it and run to minimize the risk to me and to others). But if we did end up in the air and they were demanding to fly to Billings Montana, would I squawk 7500? I decided - no.

    If I did, you would get a call from ATC, and I would answer that you intend to squawk 7500 - right?

    Then what?

    I assume I would get intercepted. But what good would that do me? They would try to get me to land somewhere and probably get the "bad person" all agitated and likely to shoot me. If I attempt to ignore them, then they either do nothing (big help) or shoot me down. One has to consider that the intercepting pilot (or whoever is giving the pilot orders) might be a trigger happy hero with visions of 9/11 dancing in their head...

    Either they do nothing, or they kill me. Why would I ever want to squawk 7500?
     
  2. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    If I was going to do something like that, I'd set off an ELT, in the hangar your transponder isn't going to do squat. We're not likely to get airborne unless they can fly.
     
  3. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    There was a post awhile back with a story from a guy this had happened to. Some younger guy showed up with a 12ga and wanted him to fly somewhere. He squawked 7500 and on his initial call up to ATC he said "cessna xxx, IFR from XX to XX, squawking 7500, clearance please" They responded "blah blah cleared to wherever, confirm you are 7500" and handled the situation like they knew the hijacker was listening to the radio...

    It worked out ok. IIRC he told the hijacker when he landed that he needed to go to the tower or maybe FSS and close his flight plan or they would get suspicious.

    Could go either way. I'd probably NOT squawk the code initially and conduct the flight normally and see how things went. Depending on the person, they may just want a free ride somewhere. If it was apparent they wanted me for a hostage after I took them to their destination, i'd dial in 7500
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  4. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    I wouldn't count on the CAP to save me from an armed criminal.

    But yeah, probably wise to play dumb about being a pilot.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  5. DouglasBader

    DouglasBader Line Up and Wait

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    In the good old days, capitulating and bowing the a hijacker's demands were the rule: don't do anything that might get someone hurt, was the mantra. Just do what they tell you.

    Today the mantra is very different. Don't let an attacker have the aircraft, and defend it at all costs, including your life. Attempt to disable, and preferably kill the hijacker. This is how we teach and how we train.

    Don't let a hijacker get the aircraft in the air. Disable it and attempt to get away if you can. Unless the hijacker is planning on taking the airplane flying by himself (or herself), then he or she needs you to do it. Don't do it.

    The aircraft dosn't become a terrorist tool until you permit it. Don't give that permission. Asking if you'd squawk 7500 or not is not the right question. Asking what you need to do to disable, escape, or kill is the right question.

    Trigger happy? If you present a threat, most definitely you stand the possibility of being shot down. Don't put yourself in that position. Don't get the aircraft in the air.

    If ATC does contact you while you're squawking 7500, you'll be asked to verify squawk. You may elect to acknowledge, ident, or simply say nothing. The message received will be the same.

    If you're intercepted, know your intercept procedures. You should also understand that the intercept isn't for your safety. Your post indicates that your worried about your own safety. Upon a hijack or air piracy situation, it's no longer about you. Keep that in mind.
     
  6. steingar

    steingar Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'd take off, get us to a nice altitude, then tell the miscreant to chuck the firearm or I'd make a smoking hole of both of us.
     
  7. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    The OP's small 2 seat experimental is quite different from your 747. I'd be worried about my own safety too. Not much damage a rag and tube airplane can do to the public. Plenty of stories with light GA planes crashing into homes and the occupants emerge without a scratch. Last year a Baron crashed into a house with a family home at the time. Took out the garage, the plane was FUBAR, caught fire too. No bystanders injured. Not so with a 747.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  8. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ever consider LEGALLY arming yourself to even the odds instead of having to rely on someone else?
     
  9. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Usually the first people that show up for an ELT on the airport is either airport security or the local cop being sent to check on it.
     
  10. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Not every state provides that option, plus you escalate it to a shootout, there is a >50% chance (since the guy already has the draw) that action will put you in your grave. The best odds you get are by not being able to provide the guy what he wants. "I just clean them and work on them, I don't know how to fly."
     
  11. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    If you have a small concealed weapon, you don't have to tell him about it or pull it out until its time to shoot him. There is no shootout if the guy has his gun in his lap, thinks you are reaching in your flight bag for a chart and you pull a loaded gun out and shoot him point blank.

    Some great little pocket pistols out there today. One of my friends keeps a small sig in his flight bag, in a soft holster. It looks like a GPS in the holster, you'd never know.

    If the guy thinks you are unarmed, you have the element of surprise. He already has a gun out, and you know where it is. You have the option to never pull your gun unless the perp presents you with an opportunity for a quick, clean shot. If I have reason to believe the guy just wants a ride to mexico, and does not present me with a good opportunity to pull and get a clean shot, the gun stays in the bag.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  12. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It does depend on the state, but if you legally carry concealed the perp would never know anyway. So it just gives you another option should he decide to just take you out for whatever reason, including not leaving a witness, or that he's just p*ssed you won't do what he wants.

    Trying to reason or be "reasonable" with an amred assailant is not often prudent either. Many today, especially the desperate, and/or unstable don't care if the kill you or not. I'd rather have the alternative, but granted it is not for everyone, and it is a personal choice.
     
  13. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach

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    You drive a 767?

    Remember the January 5 attack?

    A small G.A. aircraft is a **** poor weapon.

    I would have no problems turning over the keys to my airplane - much less risk to others from them using my little rag and tube LSA than if they were to use the gun... Guns can kill people.

    It is about me. There is almost no risk to anyone else from my 735 pound LSA with less than 16 gallons of fuel.

    That was pre-9/11 and pre-"get intercepted and shot down".
     
  14. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach

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    No.

    Like I said, on the ground, I would throw the keys at him/her/it and run.

    But the question was, if one was in the air, should one set the transponder to 7500 or not? My conclusion is not.
     
  15. Threefingeredjack

    Threefingeredjack En-Route

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    If I was alone, either his body or mine would be in the hangar when the police arrived. No way would we get airborne. I carry, I practice often,and I would rather resolve the situation on the ground. If even one innocent person was harmed by my aircraft I would hope I didn't survive to live with the guilt.
     
  16. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And I might do the exact same thing if I thought I could get out of there alive. I might try it anyway, and get shot in the back. One never knows until put in that situation. If you can't avoid, run. If you can't run, well that's the question isn't it?
     
  17. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    I don't know. If they stated their intentions were to crash the airplane to harm someone, or if I had reason to believe so (Long beard, name Mohammed.. I profile) then I would tend to agree.

    But the more likely scenario is that they just want a ride somewhere. Maybe they are a fugitive and just want to get the hell out of state? And honestly, they have a better shot at killing many innocent people if they steal my jeep and go trucking through the mall than by stealing my 152 and trying to crash it into a building. If someone came up to you in your car, pointed a gun at you and said "get out, i need this car" you would probably do it right?
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  18. Threefingeredjack

    Threefingeredjack En-Route

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    Yes. And when he got in we would replay the scene. :thumbsup:
     
  19. LearDriver

    LearDriver Line Up and Wait

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    At a former corporate flying job, we had a guy try to pass himself off as a passenger. He knew where we were going and some of the passengers by name. He had done his homework. We were about 5 minutes from loading the passengers when we figured it out. We got the guy separated from the rest of the group. Then I had a private word with him. He was made aware of the fact that if he attempted to leave the room that one of us would end up not breathing. He was also told that I would not be the one not breathing. He made one attempted to leave and then changed his mind. Then he waited for the police to arrive. You just have to convince them that you are more highly motivated to harm them than they are to complete their task.
     
  20. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    Well played

    another option - what about a controlled crash? pull the mixture on takeoff, or switch the fuel off.. when you have a bit of altitude and put it into a lake or rough field. Make sure your seatbelt is on tight....
     
  21. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    I think the response differs based on where you are. A 7500 in the Washington SFRA would elicit a different response than in the middle on Montana.

    My answer to the original question is it depends.
     
  22. Jaybird180

    Jaybird180 Final Approach

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    Intercept and shoot down are unlikely unless you live in a sensitive area. Recall the (famous) old-lady flying from her ranch NORDO that was intercepted...she didn't get the message. I didn't follow up on that one to know what happend...don't recall her name either.

    FWIW- <12,500# airplane isn't going to do much damage. Recall the SEL that landed on the White House right on the oval office when then Pres. Clinton was in his office. Only damaged a few shingles IIRC.
     
  23. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Good way for the hijacker to end up with two guns instead of one, unless you're really, really fast on the draw from a concealed carry position. Like the British Air Line Pilots Association said about arming air carrier pilots (think of this said in a clipped, upper-class, English accent): "Our goal is to have no guns on our aircraft, not more guns."

    In any event, I put my life on the line with a willingness to die for my country if necessary for many years, but I see no point in dying just to prevent some knucklehead with a gun from going somewhere in a light plane. Yeah, if he sounds/looks terrorist and has 500 lb of explosives with him, that might be another story, but some looney with a handgun who wants to go to Billings? I'll do whatever it takes to stay alive and squawk 7500 while I'm doing it.
     
  24. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    My conclusion is absolutely yes. I want to be met by armed intervention when we land, as that may be the only thing which keeps him from disposing of the only witness at that point. With the FBI there, if he shoots me, they shoot him, and he knows that. He surrenders or otherwise leads them on a merry chase, I probably survive.
     
  25. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach

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  26. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We had a for-real attempted hijack at my local airport a number of years ago.

    A guy was running from the cops after robbing a bank. He turned his carload of hostages onto the airport where a 172 with student and CFI was doing a runup. He ran from the van and tried to open the left door, the CFI pulled the mixture about the same time the cops shot the guy. No time to squawk 7500 in that case.

    I did find a video - the hostage took a pretty good whack when she ran away though.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf4GQwc7f1I
     
  27. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Yeah -- the cops can't be sure who's who at that point, so they want everyone on the ground until they sort it out.
     
  28. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    And wait a day for the CAP to arrive? :confused:

    -Skip
     
  29. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yep, the student and CFI were on their faces for a while. The hostage ran into the horizontal stab and took a pretty good hit.

    Don't know the student, but have flown with that CFI - he's still there. Last I heard, the plane was sold and moved to somewhere in Europe.

    They guy actually survived. Took him months to get out of the hospital, then he was tried and convicted of everything, including littering, I think.
     
  30. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    But she was still running until the cop told her to hit the deck.

    Too bad the cop wasn't a better shot -- would've saved the taxpayers a lot of money.
     
  31. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Nope, typically someone from the airport or a local cop will show up pretty shortly, especially if you're at a towered airport, the 'Bwaa' bleeds through on most freqs that close. I climbed back in the tail of a 152 once working on it, it flopped back on the tail, it set off the ELT and I didn't know it. About 10 minutes later a couple of airport cops showed up with a dude with the tracker.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  32. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    heh - that was also the day I soloed. The airport re-opened just before I got there, and all the tv crews were out doing their remotes for the evening news. I was that plane in the background during their reports.
     
  33. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The hijacker would never know a person with a concealed firearm is armed. The person with the CCW may decide to never draw the weapon, so in effect he/she is no worse off than the unarmed person, but in the event the perp drops his guard, or turns his back, then things change. Again, it is just an insurance policy which the perp will not know you have.


    Thanks for your service, sincerely, but I see no downside in having a concealed firearm, but it is a personal choice, and everyone needs to make that call. I agree that it is not something to be taken lightly.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  34. spinfire

    spinfire Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'd squawk 7500. I seem to recall reading someone's story about squawking 7500 in a single engine airplane under very similar circumstances. Maybe it was here or on the Purple or Red boards. Ultimately after some back and forth ATC told them that the desired destination airport was "closed" and suggested an alternate. The pilot was able to use this to convince the hijacker that they needed to land at the alternate and after landing police were waiting.

    Regarding the idea of carrying and using a firearm in the cockpit... yeesh. MAYBE if it was a charter jet with two pilots and one could fly the airplane while the other deals with the hijacker (a la Fedex 705). But in a single pilot, single engine scenario like posited by the OP with the hijacker sitting right seat I think you are majorly overestimating your abilities if you think you're going to defend yourself against an armed attacker while flying the airplane. If you do discharge the firearm into the person sitting next to you at point blank range you're going to have a hell of a lot of mess and you're probably going to be deafened momentarily. Even if you kill them with one shot I'd think there is a strong likelihood they would slump forward onto the controls... now you've got two problems. I think you have better chances doing some aggressive maneuvers like Fedex 705. But ultimately unless you have a very strong indication that the hijacker imminently intends a 911 style suicide attack it is probably better to follow ATC instructions, be a reasonable and responsible PIC, and get it on the ground while drawing law enforcement attention so you will be met.
     
  35. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    The nice thing with a concealed weapon is that it will remain concealed unless you need it. The hijacker likely will not have the gun pointed at your noodle the entire time. Agreed it will be difficult to get the drop on someone with a gun but if they think you are unarmed you may very well get a great opportunity. Many who carry concealed stay proficient and practice removing their gun from the holster and shooting.

    The looney who just wants a ride to billings, i'd just give him a ride to billings. No funny business. I wouldn't try to initiate any sort of fight or scramble for a gun in the cockpit unless I had reason to believe they were going to kill me, or request I become a kamakazie.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  36. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    Too much caffeine in the evening? :confused: :D

    I think there are easier ways to get from Detroit to Billings than in a hijacked LSA...
     
  37. Threefingeredjack

    Threefingeredjack En-Route

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    If he shows up in Billings with only one gun he's out of luck anyway.:wink2:
     
  38. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    :lol::lol:.... Yeah, and the flight would have a headwind too... Sometime during the two fuel stops the pilot can escape.;)
     
  39. comanche

    comanche Pre-Flight

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    I would say the possibility of having to squawk 7600 or 7700 should be a lot higher then someone trying to hijack a light or sporty aircraft. Does not mean it will not happen. Not too long ago a disgruntled pilot flew his own aircraft into the Austin, TX IRS building. Would he have stolen or hijacked an airplane to commit this evil deed? No telling, but he knew he had access to a plane - his own. To provide the OP a reply, I would unhesitatingly squawk 7500 as this is standard procedure and maybe it would do some good to save the lives of others.
     
  40. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Final Approach

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    agree

    Yes, and he added fuel drums to help with the fire. And, sadly, he managed to kill someone other than himself. With one person on the ground dead, it was the most "successful" attack using a general aviation aircraft that I am aware of.
    But, how many lives were saved because he used his airplane instead of running down the smokers with his car? Or walking in with a gun?

    How would it save lives of others?


    And, this was the story referenced by a couple posters

    https://groups.google.com/group/rec.aviation.piloting/msg/319389e4dc428edb?