Two women, seen here enjoying being young and alive, are out on bail after causing a disturbance on a Cuba-bound passenger aircraft. Their behaviour was so bad, and their threat to the airplane’s security so “non-credible,” that they attracted military attention. While it’s safe to assume that people who do this stuff might not learn from their mistakes, Canada as a country should certainly use this as a learning opportunity.
Even without a full sociological investigation, it is pretty clear what the problem was. These women were both recent victims of the Big curse, and hadn’t yet realized how to behave like proper adults. Actually, the real problem was that they allegedly got hammered off duty-free liquor in the airplane’s bathroom, then proceeded to fight and smoke. This represents pretty normal behaviour for two ~25 year old vacationers. The only problem is that most vacationers wait until they are off the plane before going full Pat Martin. It might be possible to explain this as a cultural difference. Then again, maybe these women were just idiots. If so, they weren’t the only ones.
Confronted by the passengers’ bad behaviour, the Sunwing pilot made the difficult but understandable decision to turn the plane around and head back to Toronto. This decision set in motion a series of ridiculous events. The airline reported the turnaround to the most proximal air traffic control centre, which then alerted the United States’ Domestic Event Network, which then contacted the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Faster than a Conservative motion to limit debate on controversial legislation, NORAD scrambled two CF-18 fighter jets to meet the plane at the Canadian border and escort it to Toronto. The plane was over the ocean near South Carolina when the pilot decided to turn around. The Canadian border is mere minutes’ flying time from Toronto. The result is that, while it seems the CF-18s must have been in the air for well over an hour at a cost of ~$17 000 each per hour, the entire escort lasted 4 minutes.
The military response was obviously warranted, but could have been better. While CF-18s can reach speeds of 2 200 km/h, and can therefore outpace the Sunwing commercial jet, they can only fire 6 000 rounds of ammunition per minute. That’s a mere 100 bullets per second. Further, they may have laser-guided bombs and infrared missiles, but can they hover or do vertical landings like F-35s? No. So they’re pretty much useless if the Sunwing plane decides to pull either one of those maneuvers. Forget the price- it’s clear that Canada needs F-35s to keep its population safe from airborne drunks.
Before writing a blank cheque to Lockheed Martin, the Canadian government still has to account for the costs of the CF-18 escort. Who is going to pick up that tab? The good news for the accused is that, according to NORAD, this crap is already covered by the Canadian Department of National Defense budget. Seriously? Yes. While it’s tempting to blame the accused, a little bit of critical thought shows that it would be foolish to do so. This is an appropriate time for a sociological analysis, which reveals that the root cause of the problem is clearly our two most recent Ministers of Defence, Peter MacKay and Rob Nicholson, who supported the nanny-state nonsense that created the conditions which allowed these women to pass the bill to the Canadian taxpayer in the first place. The whole thing is shameful. Still, though, the women aren’t entirely off the hook.
They might not have to pay the costs of their bi-plane escort, but they do still have to face the courts on charges of smoking on an aircraft, endangering the safety of an aircraft, mischief over $5 000, uttering threats, and mischief endangering life. That’s a pretty big, pretty bad deal. Can you imagine a bigger, better deal? Think F-35. This Sunwing incident proves that no price is too high for the hover-planes Canada so desperately needs.