The strange flight of Charles Bishop, the 15 year old kid who stole a Cessna 172 and flew it into the Bank of America building in Tampa on Saturday afternoon, has raised more questions as the days have gone by.
The story put every cable news outlet on Graphics Alert Status because there was a report that Bishop had left behind a suicide note, in which he had praised Osama bin Laden. No one has yet produced this note, so we don’t know the details. But someone said the magic OBL words, and we were off to the Speculation Races!
For me, though, the questions begin with, why was he being taught to fly a plane at such an early age? He started taking lessons when he was 13. That’s early. That’s just about the age parents begin thinking about leaving their son home alone on a Saturday night, and this kid’s flight instructor left him alone in the Cessna (with the keys!!) to run a pre-flight check.
He wasn’t old enough to learn to drive a car, so why was it legal for him to learn to fly? Maybe you should have the skills to manage potentially dangerous ground vehicles, like mom’s Acura, before graduating to Bernoulli’s principles.
Not that he’s the first teenager to do so. Under FAA regulations, student pilots are allowed to fly solo when they’re 16, but can’t get a full pilot’s license until they’re 17. That seems backward, doesn’t it?
Another question to be raised is, why aren’t there any jets at MacDill Air Force Base? That’s the base that houses Central Command for US operations in Afghanistan (remember Norman Schwarzkopf being headquartered there during the Persian Gulf War?). The kid flew the Cessna right into MacDill’s restricted air space, but they couldn’t do anything about it, because there are no fighters stationed there.
Excuse me, but isn’t the Air Force the one with the planes?
Instead, they had to scramble jets out of Homestead Air Force Base, 200 miles away. By the time those F-15s got there, the kid had crashed the plane into the bank. I guess we have to just hope that no one with truly evil intentions ever wants to fly into that airspace and do some real damage.
Whatever happened to that edict we heard so much about in the days after the 9/11 attacks — the one that said that there would now be an air patrol that could shoot down any planes that were off course or disobeying orders to land? In this case, crewmen aboard a Coast Guard helicopter spotted the kid and motioned for him to take it down, but he ignored them. And what was the consequence of his actions? Nothing. They couldn’t do anything about it, apparently.
I bring this up not because I think they should have shot him down, but because the “authorities” told us what they were going to do in situations just like this, to keep America safe, but they didn’t! So, it was just a lie. Another cosmetic attempt to make you feel more secure, with no truly protective policy behind it.
In several media reports, Bishop has been described as a “troubled loner.” What a shock! As if we hear about a lot of “peppy life of the party” guys committing suicide. Unless you’re the Maytag Repairman, it’s not good to get that “troubled loner” label.
We’ve also been told that Bishop may have been taking Accutane, a prescription medication for severe acne. In the paperwork for this miracle drug, in the Adverse Reactions section, along with many other possible physical problems, there’s a little upbeat side effect warning that reads “Psychiatric: suicide attempts, suicide, depression, psychosis, emotional instability.” Gee, sounds like just the thing for a troubled loner!
Granted, being a teenage boy is tough enough, what with the hormones raging and all. On top of that, this kid was abandoned by his father and had to move to a new state with his mother and try to re-start his social life there. Then, you pile on some serious acne, and you’ve got Trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Pimples!
Given all of that, does it make sense to give him a drug that can make him even more depressed? Sounds like, pharmaceutically, he went from the frying pan into the fire.
I can’t help but wonder if, somewhere on that list of possible side effects, it warns that patients who use Accutane shouldn’t operate heavy machinery or vehicles.
Like, say, a Cessna 172?