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Culture Chewbacca's lightsaber triumphs over TSA

Chewbacca’s lightsaber triumphs over TSA

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Katia Hetter

CNN

(CNN) — May the force be with you, even in the airport.

We all know that’s not always the case, especially when we’re carrying something that raises concerns from the Transportation Security Administration.

The 7-foot-2-inch tall actor Peter Mayhew, best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies, ran into a security line delay last week when he was stopped for his lightsaber inspired cane. Mayhew now lives in Boyd, Texas.

Mayhew, 69, was heading home from Denver Comic Con when his movie-inspired cane provoked a second look by TSA agents. Mayhew travels regularly to different conventions, meeting fans and tweeting photos. Next stop is London’s Film and Comic Con in July.

Mayhew quickly took to his Twitter account to protest the inspection of his cane, and credits Twitter for its speedy release. He’s seen in a Twitter photo sitting in a wheelchair, which he says he’s also using because of a bum knee.

One Chewie tweet: “Magic words to TSA are not ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.. It’s ‘Twitter’.. cane released to go home.”

The cane was not detained, says the TSA, which e-mailed CNN.com this statement: “Because of the unusual weight of the passenger’s cane, a security officer alerted a supervisor. Less than five minutes later, the passenger and cane were cleared to travel.”

A check of the TSA’s “prohibited items” list revealed this information about lightsabers:

“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.”

“Star Wars” fans had a field day 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.”

Sometimes a cane is clearly more than a cane. It’s an icon, a symbol of a movie that’s a cultural touchstone. And sometimes, it’s a storage unit for a knife. The TSA blog reports that a passenger at Washington Dulles Airport was surprised when TSA agents found her cane concealed a knife. She had recently bought it at an antique store.

 

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