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Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 12:32 am

Okay, here's the newspaper article on the problem up at Orlando Int'l Airport. I love the comments from experts saying that missile attacks in this country are unlikely and that a bigger threat is from intruders onto the airfield.

Whether you ever spot or take photos at MCO or not, please fire off an e-mail to the reporter's e-mail address at the bottom of the article. The more information these reporters have the more educated they become about the subject. The more they know from us the less likely they'll believe the crap put out by airports as to why they do what they do. We just can't lie down and let them take away our liberties like this.

If the Orlando guys would give us some names and e-mails of appropriate City of Orlando officials we can write them also.


Don Boyd

Roadside parking worries airport

By Tim Barker | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted December 4, 2002

In the wake of a failed missile attack on an Israeli jet in Kenya, Orlando International Airport officials want to close parking areas on a popular access road that sits along the airport's northern flight path.

The airport -- which a year ago considered but dropped the new security measure -- sent a letter this week to the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority asking for fences that would eliminate parking areas.

Airport officials could not be reached for comment.

The issue is likely to spark some debate, considering the popularity of the road, which runs along the Bee Line Expressway and is frequented by people who want to watch planes land and take off. The area is treated similar to a city park by those who use it.

Expressway Authority spokesman Steve Pustelnyk confirmed Tuesday evening the airport's request but said the matter would not be decided by the authority.

"For us to do that, the city would have to be OK with it," Pustelnyk said. "If the city of Orlando consents, we don't have a problem moving the fence."

City officials could not be reached for comment.

On Friday, the U.S. government warned airports that shoulder-fired rocket launchers -- like the ones used in Kenya -- could be used in the United States, though many security experts say attacks are more likely overseas.

The attack upon a charter airliner, filled with Israeli tourists, as it took off from Kenya's resort city of Mombasa failed when the missile missed its mark. Intelligence officials say missiles of that sort are relatively easy to find on the black market.

Domestically, aviation experts have long complained that perimeter security at the nation's airports is lacking. Most airports are surrounded by miles of fence line, generally patrolled only seldomly.

However, the experts have questioned whether the threat would come from missiles similar to the kind used in Kenya. The bigger danger, they say, is presented by intruders sneaking onto airport property and gaining access to secure areas.

Tim Barker can be reached at tbarker@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5022.

Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel
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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 1:57 am

Dear Mr. Barker,

Your article about the closure of the parking on Frontage Road area near the Orlando International Airport has recently been brought to my attention.

As an airline employee and aviation enthusiast living in the UK, I have for many years travelled the world with the express aim of taking pictures of airliners. Many of my trips to photograph airplanes have involved visits to the US, but others have involved travelling contries that many would regard as "risky", including Colombia, Russia, China and a number of other Asian, African and South American destination. Of course, the US has always offered the unique combination of a wide variety of airplanes and a relaxed attitude to enthusiasts such as me (as well as offering other attractions), and therefore I have typically visited the US at least once a year, many of these trips incorporating visits to Florida in general, and to Orlando in particular.

I am not alone in persuing the hobby of airplane photography, and Florida is typically visited by many aviation enthusiasts each year, both from the rest of the US and from many other countries, particularly Europe. I would not pretend that the revenue local businesses derive from such visits matches that generated by more general tourism, but such visits obviously generate significant income for your local economy as enthusiasts spend money in hotels, and restaurants, with car rental companies, and in shops. The closure of areas such as Frontage Road obviously places such income at risk, as enthusiasts will simply not visit the area if there is no opportunity to take photographs, or if they are likely to be troubled by the local police.

If you want any clarification of what this hobby is about, might I point you at http://www.airliners.net which as it currently stands is a database of around 300,000 pictures of airplanes - amongst them you will find over 1,500 pictures taken at Orlando International Airport. If you take a browse around that website, I'm sure you will agree that airplane photography could in no way be regarded as a threat to aviation security.

In respect of airport security and the closure of the parking areas on Frontage Road, modern technology means that any terrorist attempt directed at airliner landing at Orlando International Airport could be launched from locations some considerable distance from the runway (possibly several miles away). Any attempt to target an airliner would be much less likely to attract attention and the perpetrators would be much more likely to evade the authorities, if such action was launched from a remote locations rather than from the rather conspicuous parking areas along Frontage Road. It is also worth considering that an aviation enthusiast with a camera will firstly recognise suspicious activity and secondly is hardly likely to disregard it. Such people, present in locations such as Frontage Road might even take a photograph of a perpitrator should anyone attempt anything stupid - at the very least, such photographers are likely to dial 911 on their cell phones and alert the appropriate authorities if they see anything suspicious. So, in many ways, aviation enthusiasts can be the unpaid eyes and ears around an airport that could actually enhance rather than jeopardise security. Finally, I might also point out that whilst Europe has been subject to direct terrorist actions for considerably longer than the US, areas similar to Frontage Road have remained available to enthusiasts, primarily because such hobbies are recognised as non-threatening, and it saddens me that the US has adopted "knee jerk" reactions rather than make a true assessment of where threats are likely to come from.

I hope that I've been able to explain that watching airplanes from locations such as Frontage Road is not a threat to aviation security, and in a small way might actually enhance security. Keeping such areas open will also ensure that a relatively small but consitant source of income for your city remains in place for years to come, and will allow enthusiasts such as myself to continuing enjoying both the airplanes and the other attractions Orlando has to offer.

Very best regards,

There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots
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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 3:08 am

I would send that letter to the City of Orlando, not just the newspaper writer.
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 3:39 am

Andy, that was a great letter and thanks for writing it. Good idea about having the reporter visit airliners.net to see the Orlando photos.

Bruce, you are correct but I was hoping that one of the Orlando guys would post the appropriate information for us to use. I understand that the City of Orlando will make the decision on the Frontage Road closure. Reporters have space limitations, if an article is even written, so it's best to let the elected officials know all of our opinions instead of hoping that they read about it in the newspaper.

The City of Orlando website is at:


You can click on each official's name and e-mail address to send individual e-mails or you can copy these and and paste them into one e-mail, your choice.

ghood@ci.orlando.fl.us (Mayor Glenda E. Hood),
phildiamond@cityoforlando.net (Commissioner Phil Diamond),
bwyman@ci.orlando.fl.us (Commissioner Betty T. Wyman),
vickivargo@cityoforlando.net (Commissioner Vicki Vargo),
patty.sheehan@cityoforlando.net (Commissioner Patty Sheehan),
daisy.lynum@ci.orlando.fl.us (Commissioner Daisy W. Lynum),
epage@ci.orlando.fl.us (Commissioner Ernest Page)

I sent an individual e-mail to the mayor and each of the commissioners. I also sent an e-mail to the Chamber of Commerce which has a response box at:


The Chamber of Commerce needs to know how such a stupid decision can affect visits by spotters and photographers from other areas and deprive the Orlando area of revenue for hotel rooms, rental cars, restaurant meals, etc. They've got to have some clout with the city and the airport.


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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 3:59 am

Thanks for posting. I talk with Tim on aviation matters, so I gave him a call about the article. He is receptive, and I think has a balanced view of the situation.
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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 4:07 am

Don, thanks for pulling up all the emails for the commissioners (just got home from work, haven't had any time to do so yet). I'll start that letter asap.

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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 4:27 am

I didn't get any actual email addresses, but I was told to navigate http://www.orlandoairports.net . I couldn't really find anything useful though. Emailing the commissioners of Orlando might be a better idea.
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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 4:52 am

Here's another article from the Orlando Sentinel newspaper regarding MCO's desire to close the viewing area on Frontage Road. Look at the "expert" comment about having airliners at 10,000 feet a half mile or mile from the end of the runway to eliminate the missile problem. Can you imagine the climb rates and descent rates using his figures? With experts like this, who needs dummies?

Please folks, send some e-mails to the reporters and to the Orlando Mayor and Commissioners listed above.



Plane enthusiasts may lose viewing spot

By Tim Barker and Sarah Hale | Sentinel Staff Writers
Posted December 5, 2002

For 15 years, Rusty Pendleton, 60, has whiled away countless hours parked along an access road north of Orlando International Airport, watching jumbo jets lumber into the sky overhead.

"Some of them are so low," Pendleton said. "You can literally take a rock in your hand, throw it up, and hit the bottom of the plane."

That's just the sort of thing security-minded folks at the airport are worried about. Except they fear missiles, not rocks.

Those fears, fueled by a recent failed attack in Kenya, have prompted the airport to resume a push that was abandoned a year ago to force the Rusty Pendletons of the world to find somewhere else to watch airplanes come and go.

Airport officials have offered few details about the plan, which would eliminate parking by moving fences closer to the road.

"We're really in the initial phase of this project, so we don't have any dates or a schedule at this point," spokesman Carolyn Fennell said.

The plan has the support of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, which owns the land in question. But the final say rests with the city of Orlando.

"We just want to make sure the city does not object to the airport's request," said Steve Pustelnyk, a spokesman for the authority.

It also is not clear who will make the final call on closing an area popular with many residents. Along with dozens of plane watchers who gather daily, the area is often visited by tourists and vendors who sell everything from hot dogs to flowers.

Susan Blexrud, a spokeswoman for Mayor Glenda Hood, said the city supports the airport's request, but is waiting for a formal proposal from the airport before acting.

Council member Phil Diamond, whose district includes the airport, said he is open to the idea, but considers it an issue best decided by the entire City Council.

"I'd like to hear from the security experts," Diamond said. "If they think it's needed, then it's something we should look at doing."

Whether this is a key security issue is up for debate, with aviation experts mixed on how effective it would be at preventing missile attacks similar to the one in Kenya. That's where terrorists tried unsuccessfully with a shoulder-launched rocket to bring down a jetliner loaded with Israeli tourists leaving the resort city of Mombasa.

Charles Slepian, chief executive officer of the New York-based Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center, said the key to guarding against such attacks is to secure both ends of a runway, a half a mile to a mile out. That space gives airplanes enough time to reach a high enough altitude -- 10,000 feet -- to get out of the effective range of those weapons.

But he questioned whether a popular gathering site -- such as the Frontage Road parking area -- should be closed during busy hours.

"If people are using it, it's not a good place to launch a missile from," Slepian said.

Of bigger concern are more remote areas -- like the kind found along much of Orlando International's perimeter -- where a terrorist could operate out of sight, including large bodies of water, wooded areas and marshes, he said.

Joseph Del Balzo, a former acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and a security consultant, suggested that video monitoring would be the best way to go for both remote areas and more crowded spots like the one on the access road.

Still, in the absence of a surveillance system, he said the push to close the parking area couldn't hurt.

"There are a lot of airports that are pretty vulnerable on the perimeter," Del Balzo said. "I think that's a reasonable choice for the airport to consider."

That's not what Mike Litzbarski, 29, of Deltona, wants to hear.

"I've always had a love for planes," said Litzbarski, who spends his lunch break gazing at planes four or five times a week.

The bigger the plane, the lower it flies, Litzbarski said.

He and others like him have studied the landing patterns of the jetliners. They know which runways each airline uses and can predict with near accuracy how much time will pass between landings.

But when he gazes upon the stretch of road, he sees little for the big jets to fear.

"If someone wanted to harm a plane, they wouldn't stand out here in front of everyone and try something," Litzbarski said. "They'd hide in the trees where they wouldn't be seen."

Sarah Hale can be reached at shale@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5718. Tim Barker can be reached at tbarker@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5022.
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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 5:57 am

"If people are using it, it's not a good place to launch a missile from," Slepian said.

Good point.Its harder to defend against a missle attack AWAY from the airport than actually at the airport itself IMO.I live 3miles out from LHR and the planes are still very low and I can't see how you can defend agaisnt this?
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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 6:19 am

Folks, I had emailed this letterto the authors of the article that came out in yesterday's Orlando Sentinel. I am only now just seeing this thread so I thought I'd post it FYI. I'm also going to write the city and the airport's authority.

PrinceAir (Nigel P.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Prince, Nigel

Dear Sarah and Tim,

Firstly, thank you for your eye-opening article yesterday. I, like thousands around the world, am a "plane spotter". To us, there is nothing quite like the whine of jet turbines on final approach or the magnificence of a 400,000 lb Jumbo jet as she takes to the air. I take photographs of planes as a hobby and have even sold a few. I have met people here from as far away as Japan who visit to take shots of rare carriers (to them AA is rare). Advertising agencies, airlines, major news networks such as CNN as well as the print media have used photos taken by spotters worldwide. I am dismayed by the airport and city's new position to remove one of the prime viewing and photography spots in North America.

I understand the need for security and since the unfortunate events of Sept. 11, we spotters have taken great steps not to provoke an already delicate situation by not taking our cameras or ourselves into restricted areas and by obeying all posted warnings, notices and signs. As your article points out, there are many places all around the Orlando airport that pose more of a clandestine threat for launching projectiles at arriving or departing aircraft. Eliminating the highly visible Frontage road location without adequately securing all the other locations around the airport would not enhance security. It would just be a "feel good" reaction without any real substance behind it.

Fort Lauderdale has a dedicated viewing/spotting area for aircraft with air traffic control frequencies piped in. Orlando's own Orlando-Sanford airport has police monitor our activities and as long as we stay within their guidelines, they do not prevent us from taking photos or just viewing. London's Heathrow has a dedicated viewing gallery as do many others in Europe. It is most unfortunate that the airport's authority and the city choose to take this backward step without considering the provision of alternatives for enthusiasts.

Nigel O. Prince
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714

p.s. If you can, please visit the largest and most well known website dedicated to the hobby of plane spotting at http://www.airliners.net . Search on Orlando, for pictures taken at our fine airports.

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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 6:23 am

 Wow!  Wow!

I'm catching up on the forum messages and I just saw Don's message saying they've closed the viewing area in FLL... so now I've got another letter to write!  Wow!
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RE: Need Your Help Regarding MCO Viewing Area

Sat Dec 07, 2002 1:50 pm

Yeah I read that in the paper about the 1/2 to 1 mile secure zone, so aircraft could reach a safe altitude of FL100. I'd love to be in a 727 as it tries to pull that off.

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