the story is pretty much explained in this e-mail that i sent to the security chief at TRI...here it is and let's see what you think...
During a recent visit to Tri-Cities Airport to pick up a friend returning from Des Moines, Iowa, through Cincinnati, I had an interesting encounter with an airport security officer. I arrived at the airport to find that my usual photography spot was blocked off by a Sheriff. I stopped my car and asked if it was possible for me to be allowed to photograph aircraft from this spot. I have been to this spot a countless number of times over the past 2 years without any problems with security. My proposal was rejected and I was sent on my way. Now I made my way to the terminal, where I passed through the security search at the entrance to short-term parking. I asked the officer present if I could walk over to the employee parking lot (just across the street) to take photographs of the aircraft that my friend flew in from Cincinnati that day. This officer agreed to let me take pictures, and told me that in case anybody hassled me, that I could tell them that "he said it was OK." So I went across the road into the employee parking lot and stood at the edge of the lot (out of any parking space). I proceeded to take a few pictures and I was there for about 10 minutes when the aircraft was preparing to depart. This was when I could take the most valuable pictures because there would be nothing around the aircraft. Just as the aircraft was pulling away, an airport security officer rushed up to me, yelling at me to stop taking pictures. I did indeed stop and he told me how I was a possible threat to security and that his lieutenant told him to run me off. This angered me, because I was not told that I was breaking any rules or regulations. As far as I know, photography is not illegal at airports. The security officials are worried that someone will use my photos for intelligence. This is not the case, as there are numerous aviation websites with FAR better pictures than mine that anyone could use for whatever reason. I believe that this was an extremely unfair encounter and this hassle was not necessary for security measures. I think that the airport security officials could use their time more wisely, rather than forbidding photography to teenage student pilots/aviation photographers. This incident does not speak highly of the officials at TRI. They have abused their authority and this is unacceptable. The need for heightened security is apparent in the wake of the September 11th attacks, but there is absolutely no need to forbid photography. Either I was completely misled, uninformed, and out of my bounds that simply taking PICTURES was against the law, or a hasty security official wanted to be extra sure that a teenage boy can no longer enjoy his longtime hobby. Something should be done to give photographers the chance to engage in their hobby while not posing as a threat to security. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the 3rd busiest in the USA, Jonathan Birdwell (a fellow photographer) and I offered a ramp tour in an airport operations vehicle with a security escort that would take us all over the grounds of the field, providing us with ample photography opportunities. We have both been accomodated very well at major airports such as Chicago's O'Hare, New York's Kennedy (JFK) Airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield Int'l, and Knoxville's McGhee Tyson airport, and at many different airports throughout the country. We are both appalled because there is nothing available here at TRI for anyone interested in aviation photography. There are no opportunities for ramp tours with security escorts or anything of the sort here at TRI. TRI used to be known to us as a friendly, hometown airport. The attitude has changed drastically as a result of this dispicable and unnecessary incident. We would both enjoy an appreciation for aviation photographers here at TRI, and some respect for our hobby which we invest much time and money in. Also, ramp tours in airport security vehicles would be fantastic for photography. So all we ask for is respect for our hobby, as we do not pose a threat to security. If photography is illegal at TRI now, then we must know so we do not violate this rule. We need an outline of what we can and cannot do, as it seems getting permission from a security officer is unreasonable now. We would both like to know our limitations, yet we clearly know our rights.
Thank you for your time,
Jonathan Derden; written with help of fellow photographer Jonathan Birdwell
now, is that asking too much? just some respect for our hobby and passion? and maybe, just maybe an opportunity to arrange a ramp tour at TRI? things have gotten way out of hand...it's time to take a stand against senseless stuff like this...what do YOU think?
"my soul is in the sky" - shakespeare