This coming Memorial Day weekend marks the kickoff of the summer travel season, and the Triple-A predicts nearly 37 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday. Airport officials are warning travelers of even longer waits at security this summer. Tim McClung, aviation marketing manager for the Iowa Department of Transportation, was among state officials who toured Iowa’s airports this spring. McClung says state and Transportation Safety Administration officials stopped at all 113 publicly-owned airports in Iowa. It took five weeks. McClung says their goal was to focus not only on the big airports, but on the small strips where air travelers are also the pilot and owner of the plane.McClung says it was an effort to educate the pilots, tenants and workers at the state’s airports. Local city leaders were invited to meetings with the transportation, security and airport people to talk about security concerns and simple local measures. McClung says it’s a matter of common sense approaches, like making sure keys are taken from the plane’s ignition and the aircraft’s properly secured. He calls it a “neighborhood watch” approach. There’s also a nationwide toll-free number, 1-866-G-A SECURE, for anyone to report suspicious activity they may see at an airport. Far from terrorists or hijackers, McClung says the concerns at most local airports revolve around more mundane kinds of problems. He says it’s the everyday type of trespassing they worry about, as the T-S-A itself has concluded that general aviation, private planes and their small airports, don’t pose much of a threat. The trip, however, was part of an effort to tighten security so there’s less likelihood of any terrorist action, daily vandalism, or danger to the public who might wander into trouble at a small airport.
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