"At one time we too were foolish"
One night another Deputy and I got into a situation because of two inocent facts: First; Each month we had to attend in-service classes on many different subjects. This was done to keep us abreast of what was going on in law enforcement. Second; Working the midnight shift, it was our responsibility to check the Hilton Head airport periodically. Just to make sure that everything was quiet and secure.
The other Deputy and I had just had an in-service class a couple of days before, given by the FBI and U. S. Customs concerning drug trafficking. One point that they stressed was that there were unbelievable amounts of drugs coming into Beaufort County by boat and plane.
While driving around the airport, which did not have a manned tower, we decided to take a close look at the planes that were there. We spotted a large Lear jet. It had four or five windows along each side and each window was blocked by a drawn curtain. Well that was enough for us, it must be full of drugs!
We walked around the plane and found a door on the left side near the rear. The hinges of the door were on the bottom, the door when opened swung down and out from the top. The door swung all the way down and the steps were on the inside of the door. There was a pull handle on the door so we checked it and found it to be unlocked. We decided to took a quick look inside for drugs so we unlatched the door. We figured it was our responsibility to do a security check on the plane anyway, since it was unsecured. We planned to step backwards while holding our hands against the door slowly letting it open.
Everything worked fine until the top of the door was open about a foot, at this point the full weight of the door started to come to bear, on our arms. We just stood there looking at each other a couple of minutes wondering how much heavier this thing was going to get. If it got too much heavier going down, we were sure we would be unable to lift it back up from the ground to close it.
We talked it over, while our arms got more tired holding it up. We decided that there probable wasn't any dope on the stupid plane anyway, so we would just go ahead and close the door.
Well we at least were right about one thing, this door would be too heavy for us if it was all the way open. In fact it was already too heavy for us to close. We could hold it in place but no matter how hard we tried we could not get it any closer to closing. We couldn't get any leverage because the top was so far above our heads. So there we stood holding the door. At first it struck us as funny, but then we thought, what if our supervisor comes out here and finds us like this? Even worse than that, what if the owner of this plane comes driving up?
We couldn't just let it go, because that would leave the plane totally unsecured, and being the professionals that we were, we couldn't leave it like that. Then we had an idea, we checked and found that I could support the door in its present position, for a minute or two anyway. While I held the door the other Officer ran to his patrol car and drove it up to me so that its front bumper just touched the back of my legs. He then climbed on top of the hood of his car and held the door until I got up there. From on top of his hood we were able to close the door.
Once we heard the door latch shut, we both sat on the hood of his patrol car and laughed until we were crying. That was the last time the two of us tried to check a plane for drugs.
by R.L. Dettwiler