Some of the 800 volunteer Airport Rangers pose for a portrait at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on Thursday, August 3, 2006.
© Mark M. Hancock / NewsEagles for American Profile magazine
The Airport Rangers program is composed of volunteers who regularly ride their privately-owned horses around the parimeter of the ninth-largest airport in America to ensure safety and security.
Airport Rangers program coordinator David Poynor prepares Shalako, a 13-year-old Chestnut, before a ride at the Airport Rangers station near Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
Airport Ranger Terry L. Stevens prepares Chaves, a 6-year-old Rocky Mountain, for a ride at the Airport Rangers station near Bush Intercontinental Airport. Many horse owners rode trails around the airport prior to Sept. 11, 2001. After 9-11, airport officials closed the trails.
Terry L. Stevens rides patrol atop Chaves, 6, as a jet departs Bush Intercontinental Airport. Riders patrol and secure the 12,000-acre wooded perimeter of the airport, which includes some wetlands where only horses can travel. Airport Rangers are trained and can respond to any airport needs including search and rescue operations.
Tamsen Valoir rides Silver Sam, an 8-year-old Arabian, during patrol at Bush Intercontinental Airport. Fellow horseman Richard Vacar, director of the Houston Airport System, suggested a way for airport security and riders to cooperate.
Jill Sisler holds on as Chloe, a 6-year-old Missouri Foxtrotter, stops from a gallop during patrol at Bush Intercontinental Airport. Sisler bought Chloe specifically to join the program and give back to the community. The Airport Rangers program became a successful partnership while initially costing the airport less than $50,000 in training and trail clearing.
Pam Thonsgard rides Meg, a 22-year-old Grayed Pinto, on patrol at Bush Intercontinental Airport. While most riders are only armed with cell phones to report abnormalities, about 50 off-duty law enforcement officers in the program also carry firearms. Thonsgard said she finds and reports illegal activities during almost every patrol.
Terry L. Stevens dismounts and leads Chaves, 6, across a drainage culvert at Bush Intercontinental Airport. While most riders are only armed with cell phones to report abnormalities, about 50 off-duty law enforcement officers in the program also carry firearms.
Airport Rangers Tammy Powell (left to right), David Poynor and Pam Thonsgard chat atop their steeds during patrol at Bush Intercontinental Airport. First-time Houston airport visitors also appreciate seeing horse riders patroling the woods when they glide into Texas.
Please read the Texas Profile story by Beverly Burmeier and see additional photos in the slideshow.