Peter Mayhew was detained by the TSA at the Denver airport last week. Mayhew is an actor, and an imposing figure at seven feet, two inches tall. The 69 year old is best known for his portrayal of ‘Chewbacca’ in the original “Star Wars” films. He was detained by the TSA because the cane he carries is modeled after the famous ‘lightsaber.’
Mayhew was returning from a Comic Con. He has attended many such functions, appearing on stage, and handing out autographed pictures. He will be attending a convention in London next month.
He was in a wheel chair, because of a bad knee, and began tweeting about the detailed inspection of his cane. He credits the responses of his fans for the timely return of his ‘light saber.’
One of “Chewie’s” tweets said: “Magic words to TSA are not ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.. It’s ‘Twitter’.. cane released to go home.”
A TSA supervisor e-mailed CNN that the cane received additional scrutiny because of its weight. It was returned to Mayhew in less than five minutes.
The official cited the rules for such items:
“Sadly, the technology doesn’t currently exist to create a real light saber. However, you can pack a toy light saber in your carry-on or checked bag. May the force be with you.” (The TSA spells it “light saber.”)
“Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.”
Of course “Star Wars” fans had their fun on Twitter.
“@TheWookieeRoars @TSA Just learned Star Wars lesson #1: ‘Let the Wookie Win,’ ” wrote astronomer Ray Sanders.
Wrote @milapajamas: “Peter Mayhew @TheWookieeRoars was stopped by TSA cause he had a lightsaber. I guess it is a weapon after all, which means Star Wars is real.”
There was a justified reason to carefully inspect his cane. Just recently at another airport, a woman had a cane which was also quite heavy. She had purchased it at an antique store. Inside of the instrument was a rather lengthy knife.
All is right with the universe again. The force remains with us. Chewbacca was detained for a while for carrying a lightsaber, but he’s back on the “Millenium Falcon” once more, growling at Han Solo.
The Guardian Express