SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The pilot who posted a cell phone video on YouTube revealing potential loopholes in airport security identified himself Monday and said he is "pretty shocked" by the national uproar he has caused.
Chris Liu, a 50-year-old Colfax, Calif., resident and 27-year veteran pilot, said in an interview with a Sacramento television station that he never imagined his "little video" of what he felt were lax procedures at San Francisco International Airport would get much attention.
The video, posted Nov. 30, has since been pulled from YouTube, and Liu has been stripped of his role in a federal anti-terrorism program that allowed him to carry a handgun while flying. His story has been covered by media across the country including local outlets, CNN and Fox News.
"I never even thought about being an activist," Liu told KXTV Monday night, "but it's kind of turning into that direction."
A website Liu set up to chronicle his story indicates a man on a mission.
"The Patriot Pilot: An American Hero," describes what Liu views as a contrast between security measures faced by travelers and airline employees and those faced by ground crews. He also expresses his frustration with the Transportation Security Administration's response to his security complaint.
"The Patriot Pilot is an average man, like many of us, who simply wanted to make sure that the American public was truly safe when flying the 'friendly skies,"' Liu wrote on the site.
A flashing announcement at the top of the home page said the whistle-blowing pilot would reveal his identity Monday.
Liu did not return a phone call from The Sacramento Bee, and the airline for which Liu works has not been identified.
Known only as a Sacramento-area pilot, Liu burst into the spotlight shortly before Christmas when TSA officials began investigating him for possibly revealing sensitive information.
Liu's attorney, Don Werne, told The Bee that Liu was part of the "federal flight deck officers" program at the time he shot the video. The program, created after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, allows some pilots to carry handguns on board to derail hijacking attempts.
But TSA officials arrived at Liu's Colfax house earlier this month and confiscated his weapon. Placer County sheriff's deputies, who accompanied the TSA, suspended his permit to carry a concealed weapon.
TSA authorities have defended the action, saying that pilots who participate in the program "must be able to maintain sensitive security information."
Werno told The Bee that Liu has since flown several flights but remains under investigation by the TSA.
Liu's gripe with airport security measures focuses on ground crews who he said need only swipe a badge to access the tarmac and parked planes.
Neither the ground workers nor their belongings are inspected, Liu argues.
"The current system, as exposed by the Patriot Pilot, allows ground crews far to (sic) much unsupervised access to the aircraft and only invites another terrorist attack or mass air disaster," Liu wrote on his site, www.patriotpilot.com. "Let's plug the hole, NOW."
Liu initially said he wanted to remain anonymous to protect his family and keep the attention on the security issue.
But on Monday, Werno said, "The story was going to get out, so we can be proactive or reactive."
In a televised news report Monday, KXTV reporter George Warren said he struck up a relationship with Liu in July after an Oak Park home that Liu and his wife owned exploded, injuring four city firefighters.
Investigators later alleged the house had been rigged to blow up by a neighbor angry with Liu over what he argued was money owed for a plumbing job.
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