This morning I was finally able to meet in person the manger here @ CLL. The director is a very nice man who didn’t give me the normal answers that many of us have become accustomed to. He did confirm there are NOT any Federal laws (FAA, TSA, Congress, President, etc.) against taking pictures @ airport. However, that was ½ of the good news.
Now for the not so good news.
CLL is run by Texas A&M University which has become really big on terrorism, security and first responder training. Based @ CLL is Texas Task Force 1 which is the state’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team. They were deployed to the WTC following Sept. 11th. Anyway, TAMU is working to set up a lot of other counter terrorism centers. Because these things and TTF-1, TAMU does not want people taking pictures @ CLL without permission. They are not worried about people taking pictures of a COEX ATR-42 but they are concerned with the regular flights of C-130's that are here doing only God knows what. They also do not want people talking pictures of airport procedures such as boarding, loading/unloading, or refueling. Also, many high ranking TAMU officials (I guess this is the Board of Regents, President, etc.) don’t want pictures taken of their private aircraft. They have also had a lot of problems with the press talking pictures of restricted areas even when asked to stop so they have been forced to crack down on it.
So to put it simply, it was Texas A&M University, not the federal government who decided to place restrictions on this hobby.
Now for the rest of the good news.
I truly appreciate Mr. Happ, the Airport Director, for taking the time to meet with me and address my concerns. He could have been like a lot of other airport officials who just say “go away”. While he didn’t tell me quite what I hoped to hear, I was more than happy to accept his answers. He presented them in a way that didn’t make me feel like I was a criminal and spoke with me on an adult level. He also said that if I still wanted to take pictures @ the airport, I could contact him or the new head of the airport security, who was also in the meeting, and they would setup the time so I could take some pictures. He was also glad that the national guard has left the airports. (Then again, who isn’t?)
Overall, I am pleased with the results of the meeting. It shows me that not all airport officials in the U.S. have gone insane. While security is important, common sense should not be tossed out the window. I guess my problem here @ CLL is a lot like the ones @ HNL. Lots of military activity that they don’t want photographed so they’re very restrictive and cautious about it.
I’m probably leaving something out but I’m trying to get this typed up so I can get out to my office. My boss didn’t expect me to take time off this morning so I’m sure he is wondering where I am. I’m leaving tomorrow to go to DFW and do some spotting. Maybe with my new lens my pictures this time won’t come out looking like someone added too much softener.
"There is no victory at bargain basement prices."