WASHINGTON — The federal government is urging private pilots to watch out for suspicious behavior at small airports and giving them instructions on what to look for.
The Airport Watch program is a joint effort by the Transportation Security Administration and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Plans for the program were announced last fall and details were being unveiled Tuesday.
"If you see someone loading unusual cargo into an aircraft, or if you see someone loading something into an aircraft that you haven't seen loaded before, that's a hint there might be something wrong," said Warren Morningstar, spokesman for the pilots' association.
There are 18,000 private landing facilities in the United States. They are seen as potentially vulnerable to terrorists because many have little or no security.
An 18-minute video showing pilots, mechanics and airport technicians what kind of suspicious behavior to look for is being sent to 3,500 airport directors, all 50 state aeronautics directors, 158 federal security directors who oversee airports and 800 chapters of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
The video, developed by the pilots' association, also is available on the Internet.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge appears at the start of the video and encourages pilots to help combat terrorism.
"We're asking you to become highly aware of your surroundings," Ridge said. "We all must watch out for one another."