The federal air marshal service was greatly expanded after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The exact number of air marshals employed by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is estimated to be about 4,000. Armed air marshals not only travel undercover on passenger airliners but they also protect and secure the nation’s commercial airports.
There are 10 airports in Delaware, although only one offers commercial services. The other nine are small general aviation/public-use airfields.
New Castle County Airport (ILG), also called Wilmington-Philadelphia Regional Airport – located just south of Wilmington’s central business district and 30 miles from Philadelphia, had 1,064 passenger boardings in 2012. The addition of Frontier Airlines non-stop service to Atlanta and Detroit in 2013 is expected to significantly increase passenger traffic, as well as increase the need for more federal air marshals to service the hub. The three-runway airport averages 184 daily aircraft operations with destinations to Chicago, Denver, Houston, Orlando and Tampa.
Meeting the Requirements to Become an Air Marshal in Delaware
The following requirements must be met to become an air marshal in Delaware:
- U.S. citizen
- No older than 37 years of age
- Good health (must pass a medical exam)
- Drug-free (will be tested)
- Physically fit (must pass physical fitness evaluation)
- Good moral character/no criminal record (background will be thoroughly investigated)
- Mentally stable (will be given a psychological evaluation)
- Suitability for the job will be tested
Beyond these basic requirements, federal air marshal jobs require that candidates have a bachelor’s degree or better (see below) or three years experience in a related job such as law enforcement or criminal investigations.
Applicants most often seek to qualify for these jobs with a bachelor’s degree in a field like criminal justice, law enforcement, aviation management, homeland security, etc. Graduate studies beyond the bachelor level could increase the chances of being hired and of being promoted to a managerial position.
Delaware has seven accredited, degree-granting four-year public and private colleges/universities plus three community colleges. Five schools have criminal justice programs from which an average of 202 students graduate each year.
Training Requirements for Air Marshal Jobs in Delaware
Men and women who are accepted into the Federal Air Marshal Service must successfully complete a two-part training program before being assigned to one of the 21 field offices in the U.S. Training consists of:
- 35-days at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, NM
- 43 days at the Federal Air Marshal’s Training Center in Atlantic City, NJ.
The training in New Mexico focuses on general law enforcement matters such as criminal investigations, firearms proficiency and physical fitness. The Federal Air Marshal Training Center in New Jersey specializes in air-specific subjects such as:
- Hand-to-hand combat
- Behavioral recognition
- Aircraft-specific strategies
- Dealing with unruly passengers
- Handling passengers with improvised explosive devices
- Mental preparedness
Delaware’s Air Marshals are Always Alert
In May of 2011, an off-duty air marshal was driving on a highway in Delaware when she spotted a car weaving erratically. Suspecting a DUI, she notified the highway patrol and followed the vehicle, which subsequently stopped, on the roadside. The male driver exited his car and walked to the air marshal’s car shouting obscenities. When she showed her ID he ran back to his vehicle but she followed and attempted to restrain him. He physically assaulted her and got away on foot. The man from Millsboro was later arrested and charged with second-degree assault, a felony.