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The Guard At Airports

National Guard troops toting automatic rifles were posted Friday at some of the nation's busiest airports, including those in Miami, Los Angeles and Boston, the departure point for the two hijacked jetliners that brought down the World Trade Center.

Passengers waiting in long lines at Boston's Logan airport welcomed the troops, who looked through luggage, patrolled terminals and kept an eye on security screeners.

"They've made the security 10 times better," said Joseph Costello, a Boston College sophomore heading home to Urbana, Ill., for the long Columbus Day weekend. "It might be inconvenient, but I'd rather have them do it."

Meanwhile pilots will be able to move their private planes from the New York and Washington airports where they have been grounded since the terrorist attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.

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In addition, the 28-mile no-fly zone around both cities will be reduced at midnight EDT to about 20 miles. This will allow private planes to use Dulles Airport and the Montgomery County, Md., Airpark in the Washington area and Republic Airport on Long Island, said Warren Morningstar, a spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a trade group.


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New Jersey National Guardsmen report for duty at Newark Airport

The airport patrols by the National Guard are an uncommon site for many Americans. Some states haven't posted troops at airports since World War II.

But President Bush has called for 4,000 to 5,000 troops to be stationed at the nation's 420 commercial airports for up to six months while the federal government develops a permanent security plan.

Some airports, including those in Denver and Albuquerque, have had troops in place for a week or more.

The nation's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield, will have patrols established by Saturday. So will Washington Dulles, another departure point for the hijackers, and Washington's Reagan National, which reopened Thursday for the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The National Guard was also in place Friday in Newark, N.J., where the fourth hijacked plane originated.

Ken Franzyshen, who was traveling to a friend's wedding in St. Louis, said he was pleasantly surprised by the extra security in Newark.

"It's a shame that it took something like this to happen for them to beef up security," said Franzyshen, 31. "It should be like this all the time."

South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges was stopped by security when he tried to go through a checkpoint at Columbia Metropolitan Airport to talk with troops because he didn't ave a ticket. He passed through with airport staff.

"It's a very important part of getting our economy rolling again, to have people traveling," Hodges said.

Private planes in the Washington and New York areas must file flight plans with the FAA before they take off.

"This is another small step forward," Morningstar said. "For the folks who previously couldn't use their airplanes at all, this gives a few of them some options."

Private planes will continue to be banned from Reagan National Airport, which reopened Thursday to some commercial flights for the first time since Sept. 11, and the three major New York City area airports: Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy.

The FAA said private planes at National and the New York City airports within the no-fly zones could be moved to other airports from Saturday to Tuesday.

Commercial air travel has dropped sharply since the hijacked planes from Boston, Dulles and Newark crashed into the trade center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Airlines have laid off nearly 100,000 employees and many flights remain less than half full, raising fears in Florida and other states that depend on tourism.

Passengers called the new security a reassuring step.

"I guess it makes me feel safer," said Marvin Thompson, 43, who was traveling from Lexington, Ky., to Detroit. "I'd probably feel even safer if they were on the plane."

Patrick George, who was flying from Detroit to Orlando, Fla., said the extra security was soothing, but his brother, David George, saw it differently.

"These terrorists, if they want to get through, they'll find a way," he said. "A criminal mind thinks that way. What if they had a wooden knife? You could do damage with a wooden knife."

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