Maxed Out 

Kamloops Airport ready for brave new world

By G.D. Maxwell

In the post 9/11 world of terrorist threats, the Kamloops airport undoubtedly does not rank in the top-tier watch list. I’m certain Orange Alert remain words unspoken there except around Halloween. True, there are any number of sleeper cells in and around Kamloops but they tend to fall nearer the somnambulant end of the continuum than they do the deranged, mad bomber end. It’s just that kind of town; chalk it up to the hazy Okanagan heat.

In fact, would-be terrorists embarking on their missions of destruction from Kamloops would face several intractable obstacles bound to sorely test their mettle. For starters, you can get anywhere in the world you want to go from Kamloops… as long as that place is Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary or Edmonton. Not knowing any personally, I’m pretty sure real terrorists prefer to avoid connecting flights and intuitively appreciate the underwhelming impact of hitting a target in any of those towns. Chances are pretty good the U.S. networks wouldn’t even pick up a story of a terrorist attack on a strip mall in Kelowna except to make fun of yet another wacky Canadian town name.

And actually hijacking a plane out of Kamloops would probably not make much tactical sense since it seems the only aircraft flying out of there are Dash 8s, Cessnas and waterbombers. Unless they were looking at taking out a really small target – or setting a Guinness Book of Records for terrorist water-ballooning – Kamloops probably wouldn’t be the departure terminal of choice. I’m not sure a hijacking a Jazz commuter flight in a twin-prop would make the kind of statement most terrorists are looking to make.

But assuming, for a moment, that a sleeper cell in Kamloops was recruited from the bottom of the class at Terror U. and decided to go for broke, I’m certain they’d never make it past airport security. I imagine it’s easier to be thoroughly, annoyingly, methodically secure at an airport processing a couple of hundred passengers a day than it is at one several orders of magnitude larger, but I’ve got to hand it to the hard-working security detail at Kamloops, they make getting on a plane even more of an adventure than usual.

Admittedly, the portly gent in line ahead of me fit the profile. I’m not certain which profile but if I were a cop and couldn’t find any visible minorities to hassle on a slow Friday night, I’d have pulled him over… if for no other reason than to get a really good look at his facial hair.

He was a biker-looking kind of guy and could easily have passed for a travelling midway worker. Six foot-five, maybe 300 pounds (138 kilojoules), polished pate, metallic orange reflective Oakleys, black leather vest laced up the sides but way too small to meet in the middle of his vast expanse, jeans, cowboy boots. No luggage.

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