Kevin Fobbs
Martial arts-trained flight attendants can disable potential airline bombers
By Kevin Fobbs
February 14, 2010

While not every airplane flight can have a federal air marshal on it, it may be possible that every flight could come equipped to disable potential air bombers like 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Detroit-bound Christmas Day bomber who has been indicted on six criminal counts including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder of 289 people. According to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA(AFA-CWA), alert flight attendants were able to thwart Abdulmutallab's terrorist intentions.

This week another flight attendant was able to use her highly trained skills and alertness to disable a possible mid-air threat from an unruly and quite possibly dangerous passenger. According to published news accounts US-Air flight attendant Lorin Gorman was able to effectively disable Kinman Chan, 30 a passenger who was reportedly high on medical marijuana.

This incident occurred as US-Air flight 1447 was well on its way from Philadelphia to San Francisco when Ms. Gorman noticed a passenger, Chan, was acting peculiar. Fifty one year-old Gorman, who is a trained Taekwondo fourth-degree black belt holder, was trained to be more alert since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but she had taken up self-defense training as well.

Gorman commented Thursday, February 11 on Fox News that when Chan became aggressive exiting the on-board lavatory with his pants down, she went into action. As Chan continued to ignore her requests to sit down and be quiet, she had to engage other more effective means of subduing the disagreeable passenger. Her self-defense training was used effectively.

Hands-on training of flight attendants is not only important it is crucial in order to maintain the flight safety of airline passengers. According to the AFA-CWA, "In light of the Christmas Day terrorist attack that was thwarted by the efforts of flight attendants at Northwest Airlines, AFA-CWA is calling for a four-pronged approach that would help to tighten aviation security. The organization has reissued the call for carry-on guidelines as well as enhancing communication techniques and hands-on counter-terrorism training."

AFA-CWA represents more than 50,000 flight attendants at 22 airlines. "Flight attendants serve a vital role in protecting the safety and security of passengers and crew inside the aircraft cabin. We should be provided the tools and resources necessary to ensure the integrity of the cabin is not compromised," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President in a January 2 release.

In order to insure flight crew and passenger safety, enhanced self-defense training as part of the flight attendant training process should be mandatory. AFA-CWA recommends their flight attendant counter-terrorism training course to include:

  • Hands-on training: Multiple 2-hour sessions spread over several weeks to maximize understanding and retention while minimizing mental and physical fatigue and potential training injuries. These sessions are designed to develop:

  • Tactical knowledge and skills to work together as a team with other crew members and able-bodied passengers to prevent or mitigate any on-board acts of terrorism. This will include the use of tactical communications between flight attendants, pilots, federal air marshals and law enforcement responders;

  • Techniques designed to allow flight attendants to protect themselves against physical attack, respond to acts of sabotage which includes potential suicide bombers, and to prevent attempts to breach the cockpit and utilize the aircraft as a weapon of mass destruction.

Next time a would-be Christmas Day bomber like Abdulmutallab comes aboard an airline flight with terrorist designs in mind hopefully the flight staff will be equipped to serve more than mid-air snacks but to hand out a swift black belt punch to put the would-be assailant down for the count instead.

If you agree or disagree or have a different thought or idea send a comment for a follow up.

© Kevin Fobbs


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Kevin Fobbs

Kevin Fobbs is founder and president of a policy organization called National Urban Policy Action Council (NuPac), that supports conservative colorblind solutions to universal issues and domestic policies that impact urban America... (more)


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