TSA + CBP test new facial recognition tech & computed tomography scanners at LAX

A new facial recognition technology screening system will soon be used on some travelers who pass through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Read the rest

TSA: the fact that our secret surveillance program hasn't caught anyone means it's working

Late last month, the Boston Globe published a blockbuster scoop revealing the existence of "Quiet Skies," a secret TSA program that sent Air Marshals out to shadow travelers who were not on any watchlist and had committed to crime, on flimsy pretenses like "This person once visited Turkey." Read the rest

Quiet Skies: Air Marshals are following thousands of random Americans through airports and on planes, for no articulatable purpose

Federal Air Marshals are furious that they have been tasked to follow thousands of Americans who are not on any watch-list and not suspected of any crime; they shadow these people (who are selected for surveillance on the basis of flimsy criteria like once having visited Turkey) and send minute-by-minute updates to the TSA, noting whether their targets are sleeping, using more than one phone, waiting until the last minute to board their planes, observing boarding areas from a distance, and other innocuous behaviors. Read the rest

Watch pilots eject at over Mach 8 on test track

Servicemembers willing to undergo dangerous test pilot duties are remarkably brave. The military is now conducting tests on different body sizes to ensure women serving as pilots get the same safety benefits. Read the rest

Student blocks deportation of Afghan asylum-seeker by refusing to sit down and let the plane take off

Elin Ersson is a 21 year old Swedish social work student who boarded a plane at Gothenburg airport yesterday and refused to sit down until an Afghan asylum-seeker who was to be deported that day was offloaded and allowed to remain in Sweden. Read the rest

British Airways won't let you check in while ad-blocking, insists that passengers post personal info to Twitter "for GDPR compliance"

British Airways was outed by security researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam for telling passengers they couldn't help with delays and other problems unless they posted their personal information publicly to Twitter, in order "to comply with the GDPR." Read the rest

Major airlines won't fly kidnapped children anymore, but Trump is still welcome in the UK

United Airlines and American Airlines have signalled the end of their participation in Trump's practice of kidnapping children to scare away potential asylum seekers, (AA: "We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it"; UA: "Our company’s shared purpose is to connect people and unite the world. This policy and its impact on thousands of children is in deep conflict with that mission and we want no part of it") -- but Theresa May's Tory government has failed to rescind its invitation for Trump to stage a state visit to the UK, despite the "deeply disturbing" images of kidnapped, distraught children. Read the rest

I was gifted a scenic flight over Black Rock City ​

I have a long history with Burning Man, both on playa and off, but I did not know until last year that ​a small group of ​generous Burner pilots ​gift scenic flights ​-- ​at their own expense and discretion -- over Black Rock City during the event.

The catch? Well, first you need to go to Burning Man, which means getting a ticket. Then, once you're out there, you have to get up real early, put your name on a list at the Black Rock City Municipal Airport and wait -- in the heat, for hours -- for your name to be called. Since the planes are small and each ride is about half an hour long, the wait to get that amazing bird's eye view can be upwards of six hours or more.

I woke up late on Saturday, the morning of the Burn. It was the last day pilots were gifting these rides for 2017, so I pedaled over anyway and put my name on the list. It was 9 AM and the guy in charge warned me it would be at least six hours before I'd be airborne, if I was "lucky." The airport was a fair distance away from where I was camping, so I decided to stay put. To kill some time, I asked the airport staff if they needed a volunteer. As luck would have it, they did.

I spent about 45 minutes organizing papers in an air-conditioned trailer (oh yeah) and the remainder of my three-hour shift checking passengers against flight manifests at the gate. Read the rest

Southwest wouldn't let mixed-race family fly until mom "proved" parenthood

Last Monday, UC Berkeley woman's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb and her fiance Patrick Martin tried to board a Southwest flight with their one year old, biracial son; they presented the check-in clerk with their son's passport, but the clerk refused to let them fly until she showed the clerk Facebook posts or a birth certificate to prove that she was her son's mother. Read the rest

Vanuatu will use drones to deliver vaccines across its remote chain of tiny islands

Vanuatu and UNICEF have issued a request for tender inviting drone companies to bid on a contract to deliver vaccines along the nation's chain of tiny, remote islands -- 83 volcanic islands strung along a 1600km atoll. Read the rest

The TSA has a secret enemies list of people who've complained about screeners

We all know that the TSA maintains a secret watchlist of suspected terrorists who are somehow suspicious enough that they can be denied the right to fly or be subjected to humiliating screenings (but not suspicious enough to charge with any crime), but it turns out that that TSA has another watchlist of problem fliers -- people who've complained about TSA screeners, as well as people who are accused of having "assaulted" screeners (the definition of "assault" includes women who've removed screeners' hands from their breasts). Read the rest

Secret Nazi experimental plane was an epic piece of vaporware

Behold the incredibly weird-looking Horten Ho 229 -- an all-wing "wonder weapon" plane that the Nazis frantically developed even as they were collapsing and losing WWII. Read the rest

Last summer, Southwest tried to kill a rule that would have tightened up engine fan blade inspections

This week, Southwest flight 1380 lost an engine in midair when one of its fan-blades cracked; it was the second time in recent years that this happened to one of Southwest's Boeing 737s. Read the rest

United moves on to literally killing puppies

United Airlines has repeatedly attained viral fame for its mistreatment of its passengers and their belongings, and has even dabbled in pet murder, but now the airline has crossed another item off its worst-airline bucket-list, murdering a passenger's puppy by insisting that a dog-carrier be stored in an overhead locker during a 3.5 hour flight, despite having received a $125 cabin pet fee and despite the carrier fitting comfortably under the seat. Read the rest

Study: Bones found on Pacific island in 1940 are likely Amelia Earhart's

Aviator Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean, and almost made it around the world: her plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. Many hypotheses cropped up over the years to explain her mysterious disappearance. Perhaps she simply ran out of fuel far from land. Perhaps she was forced down and captured by the Japanese military. Or, maybe, she was stranded on a desert island. Read the rest

United axes its employee bonus program, replaces it with a lottery, saving millions

United employees who helped the airline hit key goals got a $300 bonus -- until now. Read the rest

The intrinsic comedy of a self-inflating airplane emergency escape slide

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