This was not a one-time event. At a Boston-area flight school in 2010, the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE division discovered 25 illegal immigrants who were enrolled and taking flight lessons. “That’s not the worst of it,” Representative Rogers notes. “The owner of the flight school was also here illegally.” The aspiring student pilots had nonetheless been approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to take the lessons, despite their illegal immigration status.
Indeed, a recent TSA analysis found that more than 25,000 foreign nationals in a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) database were not in the TSA’s database, “meaning that they had received an FAA airman certificate but had not been successfully vetted or received permission from the TSA to begin flight training,” according to Stephen Lord, Director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues at the GAO. “In a perfect world, the two databases should match.”
Of course, foreign nationals do not hold a monopoly on the nefarious use of planes. In February 2010, American software engineer Andrew Joseph Stack crashed his small plane into an Austin, Texas, IRS building after posting a bitter Internet rant against corporate “thugs.” Mr. Stack killed two people in the attack, including himself.