WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO -- The U.S. Transportation Security Agency has imposed its ban on gels & liquids at aircraft museums. The national museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was hardest hit by the new security measure. Museum director Donald McDouglas was forced to install X-ray machines and metal detectors at entrances to five separate buildings. "It's a shame these buildings aren't connected," McDouglas lamented. "Our visitors have to wait in long lines each time they transit between the major exhibits. Many of our visitors are very old, and it takes them a long time to remove their shoes so we can X-ray them."
"A lot of Vietnam veterans have been coming to see the famous 'Hanoi Taxi' aircraft," McDouglas revealed. "They're not happy about having to go through a metal detector before they tour a static display."
Visitor James Chappie was taken away in handcuffs after he refused to let a TSA official confiscate his Preparation-H and his gel shoe inserts. "I just wanted to see the aircraft that rescued me from the POW camps," Chappie said. "But the idiot [TSA guard] insisted my ointment was a threat to airline safety. I showed him my orthopedic prescription for the shoe inserts, but he said it might have been forged by a terrorist group."
An altercation ensued when Chappie told the TSA agent "where he could shove that tube of Prep-H. Next thing I know, five guards are pinning me to the floor." Chappie was led away by FBI agents for questioning.
The non-profit Air Force Museum Foundation "can easily afford the cost of security checkpoints for static displays," McDouglas said. "But few museums are so lucky. The one at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia had to shut its doors because they can't afford X-ray machines and metal detectors." Other museums that have closed their doors include the World War II Air Museum in Georgia, the Aerospace Museum in Utah, and the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Museum in Wyoming.
"TSA ordered the immediate closure of Wyoming's ICBM museum," McDouglas explained, "and we were ordered to close a display where we show artifacts from the Apollo 11 rocket. In hindsight, it was pretty stupid to let terrorists get close enough to touch a missile or a rocket."
TSA has ordered small "air parks" to boost their security as well. Many have been forced to close down until they install X-ray machines and pat-down booths. But in one case, the manager of an air park hauled away the aircraft in a desperate bid to remain open.
"We had a beautiful static display that showed how [Vietnam veteran] John Levitow earned his Medal of Honor," Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall manager Jackson Kelley said. "We put the aircraft on our front lawn because we don't have room in our building. When the TSA directive came down, I asked if they knew how to confiscate gels and liquids from people walking on the sidewalk. TSA said, 'That's your problem, not ours.'"
Kelley decided to haul the Levitow aircraft to nearby Maxwell Air Force Base. "It's sitting on a tarmac where no one can see it," he lamented. "But at least now a terrorist can't hijack it or blow it up."