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Category: News - Features (Archived) Created: 11/13/2001 04:45 AM
URL(s): N/A Updated: 04/04/2002 07:24 AM
FAA Issues New Gen-Av NOTAMS
Flight restrictions placed on birds, bats and pigs
By Wan Wing Lo
Furthering the extensive restrictions imposed upon General Aviation after the September 11th attacks, the FAA today issued a Notice to Airmen that bans most bird traffic from the nation's airways without first filing a flight plan. "Eliminating every single conceivable risk to the American public, no matter how miniscule, must take first priority," said FAA spokesman Ben Hooverized. "While we have had no problems or threats concerning birds, we decided that having a sky full of avians without knowing what they're all supposed to be doing could pose a threat to national security. With the traditional winter migration season cranking up, we felt that wee had to act now. The Air Force is stretched already, and we don't need to have any more bird-related incidents."

When pressed for more details, Mr. Hooverized said that this NOTAM was issued in part to appease the public's wariness of aviation since the attack. "Several of our regional FAA offices, especially in the south, have been inundated with frantic reports of supposed terrorist attacks using small aircraft. Out of the four hundred and nine such reports over the past 6 weeks, three hundred and eighty-two have been investigated using Air Force fighters. In nearly all cases, the reports turned out to be based upon birds of prey chasing smaller birds and small animals through fields and backyards. The Coast Guard has also requested help with responding to the dozens of reports that concerned pelicans diving for fish." The Navy has remained tight-lipped about an incident last week in which the destroyer USS Hootchiecootchie fired several Tomahawk missiles at a flock of seagulls feeding on a large school of baitfish, after dozens of coastal residents in Ozark Shores AL called 911 to report that swarms of enemy bombers were poisoning their water supply. Adding to all this, an FBI spokesman last week suggested that the number of incidents is straining their resources, and it has proven very difficult to take many offending birds into custody for interrogation without violating the Federal Endangered Species Protection Act.

In a related NOTAM issued Monday and effective indefinitely, the FAA also cited a "credible threat" to the White House and as a result has banned all hoofed mammals from taking flight within 75 nautical miles of Washington DC. A source within the Office of Homeland Security cited a piece of electronic intelligence in which a member of Al Quaeda called a Pakistani nuclear scientist's cell phone and demanded that the scientist hand over weapons-grade plutonium to the Taliban. The scientist replied that "Osama will get nuclear weapons from me when pigs fly over the White House." The caller reportedly said several obscene words before hanging up, which raised questions that they may have been a coded signal of some sort. Authorities are also investigating any possible links between the flying pig comment and old BBC television recordings which stated that "Sheep do not so much fly, as plummet."

NOTAM A final NOTAM, which is effective until 12:05AM December 1, says that all bats operating within 10 miles of power plants, dams, post offices, buildings over 10 stories, national guard armories, car dealerships, roadside fruit stands, Salvation Army bell-ringers, highway rest stops, or toilet paper factories must contact the nearest FAA office prior to flight and obtain a discrete echolocation squeak code. FAA spokesman Bert Andernie told that "...this is a deadly serious warning, and all bats and flying foxes within the United States need to treat it as such. It would be a terrible tragedy if some law-abiding, mosquito-devouring bat ended up getting blown out of the sky by a Sidewinder missile because they were too lazy to make a simple phone call."

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