Terrorist threat warnings tighten security for small planes

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Biloxi International Airport and the landing strips around it may be small, but that doesn't mean that security is light.

"The security at this airport I think is even tighter than JFK [airport]," said private pilot Randy Field.

Homeland Security and the FBI have issued a nationwide warning about possible Al-Qaida threats to small airplanes.

Just days before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the government agencies fear terrorists could attempt to load small planes with explosives.  However, authorities have said there is no credible threat.

"The airport's really ramped up security. If we have our planes are out here, we have badges. We have to go through annual training. We have to get buzzed out onto the field. When we land a plane we have to get buzzed back off the field," said pilot Susan Guice as she named off security measures.

Security at small airports isn't the only concern.  Homeland Security has continually warned against terrorists attempting to gain a pilot's licenses or aviation training.

"I'm also a flight instructor. We've been trained to be on the lookout for people with irregular questions or irregular needs," explained Guice. "The FBO staff, the people who work here, who I have to go through to access my plane, they're trained in that sort of stuff also."

Every security warning is taken seriously by pilots and staff, but in the years since the 9/11 attacks warnings like this one have also become routine.

"The security situation in the last ten years has changed so much. It use to be something that no one ever thought about, and it's always in the back of someone's mind now," said Field.

These pilots also say, smaller airports have the advantage of familiar faces.  Spotting something out of the ordinary is easier.

The extra security measure ensures that everyone flies safely.       

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