PHX – 10/30/10 – Pilot Howard Pinkham

I am a Usairways pilot with hip replacements. I am unable to successfully pass through a metal detector. For approx. 5 years I have been questioned, wanded and patted down every morning each day I report for work. Ive asked for help with a solution, I’ve been through all the company and union channels to no avail. Approx. 1 year ago, I encountered something new called a groin check. This is where they run the back of their hands down your fly from top to bottom 1 inch to eother side. I said I would allow this if they dont touch my stuff. The screener accused me of being a “homophobe” and said he cant guarantee he wont touch me in this area. I said then I can’t go through the check. I called the airline for direction and they agreed to assist me in finding a solution if I would JUST take the flight out. I allowed him his groin check and was so humiliated and enraged that I was pretty much useless in the cockpit, I was self absorbed. Fortunately my Captain could see this and just picked up my duties also and never said a word. I called the union about this and they informed me that I NEVER have to let someone touch me there, that that is wrong. They also reminded me of my obligation to remain fit for duty in our flight ops manual as well as federal aviation regulations and should I find myself in a similar situation again, dont fly. Well, I noticed that this groin check kept popping up more and more often until I forced myself to accept it and block it out. [i.e. go to work on the flight deck of an airplane full of passengers -ed.]

Oct 30 rolled around and I was to fly Phoenix to Charlotte flight 1550 at 1745 EST. We had recieved a company message stating if we refuse the body scanner we WILL recieve the new pat down and we must comply. I knew I was “in for it”. I elected to follow all company procedure and directives and if it was as bad as they stated, I WILL not fly this time. Well, I beeped [in the metal detector], was offered the scanner and opted out instead to endure the pat down. I requested a private screening with the Captain as my witness (you always have the right to a witness ). They started in my shirt collar, went inside my pants waistband all the way around, up inside my crotch and squeesed around from the front each side and up the backside both sides. I was groped 4 times total! Next they rubbed my whole body down with a full palm pressure applied rubdown including my buttocks and the front groin 1 inch either side of my fly. I exited without saying anything, the Capt and myself just hanging our heads in shame. This is a new breed of LOW that I never thought I would allow…EVER.

I arrived at the aircraft and the Capt and I both agreed I was not fit to fly. I was red faced and sweating profusely (every swear word I ever new was being silently mouthed). For the first time, it occured to me that it’s humiliation, not embarrassment, that causes anger. We advised the agents, the company and the union. They were unable to locate a replacement at the time so susequently, the flight cancelled. I followed the letter of the law in every way and yet, I have risked my career, reputation and the well being of people around me who depend on my support.

Rest assured folks, Michael Roberts’s view of this “land grab” of the last of our precious rights is right on. I’ve watched the screening system get progressively worse for 5 years. I estimate I’ve already endured over 700 pat downs. It’s as if they plan some new hideous procedure, try it on us for awhile and if they get away with it, they go further. It HAS to stop here. We own our bodies, not the goverment. It occurs me me that a groping does not reveal a pound of explosive in someone’s rectum. So, if this is how TSA approaches its mission to prevent airplanes from blowing up, has anyone thought what’s next? If we go along with this I can see cavity checks around the next corner. They believe just using ” in the name of safety” makes it so and makes it right. IT DOES NOT!!!!!

Thanks, Howard Pinkham

US Airways First Officer

Contact Howard Pinkham here.

This entry was posted in Health concerns, Reports, The big picture, The facts, What pilots are saying and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to PHX – 10/30/10 – Pilot Howard Pinkham

  1. Lee says:

    Thank you for making this public!

  2. Mary says:

    Captain, thank you for standing your ground and defending the rights of all Americans. I fly USAirways at least once a month (if not twice) to Mexico for business and I have sent a letter to the company informing them that I will no longer fly. Period. On my way back from SJD through PHX last month (who, by the way, has the LAZIEST and worst ILL-MANNERED TSA bunch I have ever seen in my life!) my children, 17 year-old boy and girl twins, were pulled aside and put through the scanner. Because I was first in line, I did not even know that they had been pulled aside and even though we had agreed that we would all “opt out”, they had no choice nor were they offered an alternative. They didn’t know what was going on. Before they knew it, they had been scanned. On top of that, BOTH of them were then patted down twice! The agent who was dealing with my daughter started running her hands through my daughter’s hair and ordered her to remove her plastic hair clip – approximately 1/2″ wide. My daughter refused and told her she wasn’t going to mess up her hair just so this woman could run her hands through it. The agent told my daughter that since her hair was thick, they had to do an “extra” check, which again my daughter refused. She was finally let through with a warning not “wear things in her hair again”.

    In the meantime, I had gone through the metal detector with no pat down and went around the maze and labyrinth that some bird-brained looney TSA nitwit has designed to retrieve my things. I see my daughter’s things including a computer but no daughter; I see my son’s things including a computer and cell phone but no son. In the meantime, other passengers are getting their belongings and still no children. I retrieved my children’s belongings without being questioned as to if they were mine, etc. and took everything over as far away from this area as I could, but still in sight of the “prisoner” release area. I waited at least 10 minutes and was just about to go see what the H*LL was going on when they came out, red-faced, EXTREMELY mad, and totally upset over what had just happened.

    I told this story to the USAirways agent at the gate, who agreed with me that this treatment was not right but that the airline has no say-so over how TSA operates. Well, I’m sorry to say that even though I am a Platinum member and a very frequent flyer, NO airline (least of all USAirways) will be getting my business until this “security theater” is stopped.

    I wish all of the pilots would go on strike, including AA, Delta, and USAir along with the flight attendants. We MUST support each other and not allow this freedom to be usurped. I support the pilots and all flight crews but you and the unions also need to realize that without the flying public, routes will be cancelled and people will be laid off. I don’t want to see that happen. What I do want to see is equality for everyone. Not human beings whether they are pilots, flight attendants, or passengers being subjected to treatment like animals. To quote a favorite book: “All animals are equal but some animals are MORE EQUAL than others.”

    I thank you for your courage and wish you well in the fight that lies ahead ~


    • TESS says:

      What we need to do is have our PRESIDENT OBAMA
      allow the ‘body grope’ on each of them along with the full body scanner.
      These people are the ones that are instituting this practice so we know
      that they are well aware of it. If it is done on television, the entire country
      could watch and see how calmly they take it.
      ‘…Talk about a TEACHING MOMENT, you’d have a great one…’

  3. mary says:

    Hello Howard, I absolutely understand how you feel .. I have two artificial hips and rods up my spine and have endured all the prodding, poking and abusive demeanor from some of the more aggressive TSA whom have treated me as though I were a criminal and many times even worse.

    I am lucky in that I am not a pilot who has to endure it everyday the way you do, I have canceled a yearly trip to the sunny beaches of Mexico and will not fly again until this issue is resolved. Now given this heightened abuse it wouldn’t surprise me if I reacted by slapping the person abusing me. I also know this would be asking for trouble I do not want as they are not above tazing, hitting, handcuffing or throwing a woman down to the floor these days either, as evidenced on so many youtube videos.

    We are turning into Nazi Germany before our very eyes. I hope this is the catalyst that wakes people up to this. Especially when you learn that ALL of the ‘bombers’, ie. shoe bomber, underwear bomber, UPS toner bomb, were false flags purposely implemented so Chertoff could get his backscatter machines (he has interest in the company that makes them. Watch youtube vid: which takes more of our freedoms’ away by being humiliated, and subjected to severe degradation. Think of what they did to the Jews in the camps when they told them to get naked, this not only humiliates them but takes away their power by being vulnerable. The machine makes you naked the sexual abusive pat downs makes you feel degraded and vulnerable too. They want to start training us to keep pushing down our spirit and our power, They want to crush our survival instinct for what is right and good. This is by design. They are training us this way so they can start carting us off to the FEMA camps just waiting for those who start bucking their status quo.

    I hope everyone starts researching and realizing this to be true before it is too late for our beloved country.

    The xray machine being implemented is very shady to begin with. If one follows the money for the xray company you will see a conflict of interest in Chertoff getting them in all the airports and more to come in stadiums and even schools in the future. They have acquired the patents for the xray machines years ago which makes it plain to see how far back this agenda goes. Rockefeller stated ‘they’ will take control over travel way back in 1969 even saying U.S. citizens will need PERMISSION to travel and only those with a good reason will be granted. I feel the government wants to take control of the airlines, like they did the banks and the car companies. This is turning us into a fascist/socialist country at an alarming rate where there will be no free enterprise only government controlled corporations.

    It takes true courage to see this and accept it. It is not easy by any means as it takes away one’s entire concept of what reality has been which is scary. But once seen for what it is, the Truth is a very strong place to stand and becomes your foundation for life. From this foundation you will not accept anymore bullshit lies and deceit from the media, the politicians or the elite that want to run the planet and control us as slaves. It makes one’s heart strong to stand up for what is right and good when it feels as though everything is backwards, where bad/evil is seen as good and accepted, and good is squashed or made out as wrong.

    I am beyond flummoxed at what the American people are allowing, not only for themselves, but for their children to be molested in this manner. It makes my heart sick.

    I pray we take a more aggressive stand on this as a country and say loudly, clearly and in unison….NO!

  4. edv says:

    If you have to fly and you are male request that only a woman can do the groping pat down

  5. Jan James says:

    Has this wonderful country stooped so low as to allow porn in our everyday business. This whole TSA thing is sick to the point I’d like to leave. Any pilots leaving and wanting an extra flight attendant? One way of course. If it gets worse, I don’t want to come back!
    Seriously, I think all who have succumbed to this molesting need a gold star in heaven! I know I would be in jail by now! I will not travel anywhere now! But this is what the devils want — for the whole USA to be in lock down and in the hole! This is all planned and they are twenty years behind and now are in warp speed lock step to the socialistic tune!

  6. Jennifer Page says:

    Thank U for stepping forward. U R a true American! It makes me feel sick that people can condone this. I can’t see how anyone would put themselves thru that. And putting their kids thru that. HORRID! Amazing how many celebs condone this! Like Woopie Goldberg: they not only condone it the JUDGE those who don’t want to be cooked or sexually abused.

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