Was someone suppose to check the pilot for a proper FAA license? Was someone supposed to be at Gettysburg Airport monitoring the pilot as he took off in his gyrocopter? In short, the answer to both of those questions is no.
Gettysburg Airport is known as an uncontrolled airport.
“It’s a small 3,000 foot runway, it’s not towered,” said Harrisburg International Airport spokesman Scott Miller.
That means on a day-to-day basis there is nobody specifically responsible for monitoring flight activity.
“Gettysburg is a public use airport, it’s open all the time. Anyone who has a license and wants to fly can use the facility any time of day,” said Miller.
When we showed up at the airport Thursday nobody was around, but Miller says there’s supposed to be.
“We own the airport, we have maintenance staff there on a regular basis, there’s a flying club that is based there they are in and out on a regular basis, if something doesn’t look right people will stop and ask questions,” said Miller.
There is a sign that reads “Airport Watch” that asks people to do just that, report suspicious activity. Helen Hockensmith and her husband say they saw the oddly shaped aircraft take off from Gettysburg Airport Wednesday afternoon.
“It was kind of weird in my mind,” said Hockensmith.
Little did she know where it would end up, some 88 miles south flying into restricted airspace in Washington D.C. Now, safety questions are being raised but Miller is quick to put the entire incident into perspective.
“Everything the pilot did yesterday was perfectly legal until he entered the restricted airspace around Washington D.C, that’s why he’s in trouble,” said Miller. “It’s a free society and it is very difficult to restrict people’s movement throughout the country especially when they are complying with the rules as they are today.”
So will any changes be made at small uncontrolled airports to boost security? Sources tell abc27, changes are unlikely.