Federal Air Marshals dress in plainclothes and use their anonymity to provide security for flights all over the world. However, the longer distance and ocean course of transpacific flight paths make Hawaii a unique challenge for Federal Air Marshals. The joke has become cliché – that the person in the oversized Hawaiian shirt sitting a couple rows up could be a Federal Air Marshal. This could actually prove to be true on flights in and out of any number of Hawaii’s major airports.
Another challenge facing Federal Air Marshals is preparing for Hawaii’s statewide Airports Modernization Program and major improvements to Hawaii’s busiest airport, Honolulu International Airport.
While this project aims to increase security and safety, it also proposes to add to the capacity and efficiency of the airport. This means that Federal Air Marshals at all of Hawaii’s major airports – Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Molokai, Lanai and others – must be ready to contend with the increased threats that go along with more travelers and more flights on a daily basis.
Federal Air Marshal Service Employment Requirements
Interested candidates pursing Air Marshal jobs in Hawaii who are between the ages of 21 and 36 and who have prior federal civilian law enforcement experience may qualify for The Federal Air Marshal Service. They must also either possess a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited university or three years of progressively responsible general experience. Candidates may also possess a combination of both experience and education.
The screening process for Federal Air Marshals is rigorous. Beyond passing a panel interview and battery assessment, candidates will have to undergo a variety of screening procedures, including:
- Top security clearance and background check
- Psychical and psychological assessment—including drug and alcohol screening
Federal Air marshal training is broken into two distinct sections:
- 7 ½ weeks of basic, law enforcement training
- 8 ½ weeks of advanced, agency specific training
Hawaii Federal Air Marshals Protect Passengers and Crew on Long Flights
One of the exceptional challenges facing Federal Air Marshals operating on flights in and out of Hawaii is the extended time spent flying over the ocean.
Federal Air Marshals are trained to diffuse in-air situations and keep passengers and flight crew protected. Federal Air Marshals are also aware that there might not always be an opportunity to land immediately if negative circumstances do arise. With the transpacific nature of flights to and from Hawaii, this is an especially real challenge.
Sometimes Federal Air Marshals are placed on flights with special knowledge that these situations might arise. A perfect example of this occurred on a flight from Honolulu to Seattle. Multiple Federal Air Marshals were positioned on the flight to observe an ex-convict who had boarded the plane.
When the man charged the cockpit two hours into the flight, these Federal Air Marshals were there to apprehend him mid-air. The Federal Air Marshals kept the man handcuffed and in his seat until the plane landed in Seattle and the man could be turned over to local authorities on the ground.