Think the Giottos Rocket Blower Looks Like a Bomb? The TSA Does Too

The Giottos Rocket is a popular tool used by photographers to remove dust from cameras and glass, but if you’re in love with yours, you might want to think twice about flying with it. Reddit user gynoceros found out the hard way that some TSA airport screeners aren’t too enthusiastic about the Rocket’s shape. He writes,

FYI — If you attempt to fly with a Giottos Rocket Blower (you know, rubber bulb you squeeze to force air down a nozzle to blow dust off your sensor — no metal, no moving parts), the TSA may confiscate it because it “looks like a bomb”, no questions asked.

Just f**king happened to me in Newark. I knew I’d get robbed in Newark one day.

To be fair, it does have an uncanny resemblance to “Fat Man“…

Image credit: Rocket Power by Adam Mulligan

  • Tom Rodgers

    I have flown with a rocket blower many times in my carry-on, never had a problem.

  • Michael

    Osama is laughing in hell…

  • Ichiro Ashihara

    I know it sucks but its much easier to be mindful of the TSA. Your dealing with agents that are essentially robots that have no ability to think, just trying to keep their jobs. I go out of my way to make sure nothing would even be in question. Sucks but its the world we live in.

  • Chris Lane

    Wow, that’s ridiculous. Though it doesn’t surprise me considering I got questioned for quite some time over just a speedlite…

  • Chris Lane

     the point is that it Shouldn’t be the world we live in. It has gotten so out of hand..

  • tatyana skymyrka

    traveled with it on board many times (USA-Middle East mostly, out of EWR too), never had a problem.
    brought gitzo tripod on board with no problems either.

  • Jason M.

    Gitzo Tripods used to be designed for Gun Tripods…the more you know!

  • Joe Blount

    I traveled with two dSLR bodies and a rocket blower, but what they questioned me about was the Kodak Brownie and Ansco Shur Shot. Yep, pretty scary square boxes! Fortunately one of the agents knew what they were and that was that. 

  • Renato Murakami

    Subject to TSA agents mood swings… by the same logic, one TSA agent could confiscate just anything that remotely resembles a bomb. For instance, anything that has a LCD panel, a clock, has a cilindrical shape or the shape of a brick enveloped in brown paper bag, appears “electronic”, etc.
    Terrorists won the war. The message is clear. Turned the government against it’s own people, took essencial liberties from them and transformed the country to a permanent state of fear. Most of all, it showed how simple it is to make profound changes in a society, so much people are willing to give up individual freedom for fake sense of security.
    I really hope it never happens, but just imagine if this flawed TSA security fails to prevent yet another attack?
    People will be required to fly naked from that point on. With no luggage. In individual compartments. And cavity search will be obligatory before boarding.
    Sounds extreme? It’s what someone would’ve told you 20 years ago if they heard of what TSA is doing now.

  • tatyana skymyrka

     neat. did not know. i thought they were halted in WWII

  • El Grifo

    Unless of course you happen to be a culturally dressed Muslim then great courtesy is afforded. Can’t afford to offend they of great tolerance can we :-(

  • Richard

    “To be fair, it does have an uncanny resemblance to “Fat Man“…” No, just because it looks like a weapon of mass destruction, that doesn’t alleviate the TSA’s responsibility of thinking.

  • Cheekygeek

    You should see TSA’s heads turn when you put an Edmund Astroscan through the x-ray machine for carry-on. (Did it in 2002 on a trip to/from Australia):

  • Sisco

    It happened to me arriving in Paris, the security personnel were complete jerks about all my camera gear even asking to remove all lenses from the bodies. In Heathrow however, the security staff recognized the rocket blower, only checked, pumped it to check and let me get on my way.

  • Dave

    I am an underwater photographer and have gotten curious looks and questioning when they see the housings, large underwater strobes, coiled synch cords, chargers (6-8 of them) battery packs etc. Recently I have also been bringing a Gopro camera on a pole cam setup. They ask questions, then let me through. They never questioned the Giotto rocket blower. By the way, never buy the black rubber one, they disintegrate fairly quickly over time leaving black residue all over everything it comes in contact with. Buy the silicone orange one.

  • Grumpybear

    “Totally, Stupid, A**s”

    The whole world is looking at America now & laughing at how utterly stupid you are.
    Yes of course “that thing in the picture ” does look like a rubber rocket.
    So, of course the TSA agents should take it out & look at it – yes indeed please look!
    X-ray it separately if really want  to be sure, do whatever inspection you want by hand.
    Call over the supervisor if your have never seen one before……

    Then – And THIS is when you have the opportunity to show you have common sense –  after inspecting it & finding it to be soft, hollow, squashy, has no moving parts, no electronics, not even any metal at all, it is simply a thing that blows air…….
    THEN give it back & say OK sir.

    Its no different to if I was to write the word “rocket” or god-help-me “bomb” on a piece of paper!
    I presume that the piece of paper would then get confiscated & I would be arrested as a obvious terrorist at gunpoint by 30 twitchy agents & eventually be thrown jail for 289 years or whatever?

    (I will probably have the TSA tracking this email now as I used the “B-word” too.)

    I am sure that not every single TSA agent is as stupid, but there is the very problem – every agent just seems to make up his own rules…… How can that be right?
    (Or maybe this Agent is a photographer & has a wish-list & simply keeps all the things he would rather like for himself, eh?)

    As gynoceros states – It IS Theft!

    This is a growing problem for America within the world, & you are not making friends.
    I have the opportunity to fly via the USA every year, but specifically choose not to, as it has these stupid people interpreting what are after all mostly sensible safety rules, but actually, which which nobody really properly knows, until some Agent steals your property.
    I have even had a still-sealed bottle of water that was purchased inside the “secure departure area” of a huge international airport taken away from me at the walkway down to the plane, as it was not allowed to on board as it was a “risk”
    What does that say about what the TSA thinks about the Airports own security?

    And Yes! – I did peruse that & after a while I did get a reply from the TSA to say that should not have happened – yeah right!
    I am still awaiting my Apology, Refund & Compensation.

    I have the opportunity to fly via the USA several times a year, but for many years now I actively choose to fly via just about any other country in the world.
    Its simply much much easier. It still involves passing through security & X-rays, but it does mean I do not have to deal with brainless monkeys to “Un-welcome” you to the country.
    Oh & this feeling & choice is not a whim, as I have visited 63 over the last 23 years! from Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, even both Polar regions.

    Not just me either. Your loosing visitors, money, & alienating yourselves from the rest of the world, just because of the poor image the TSA gives as the initial face of America.
    The TSA is quite a worldwide joke you know.

    I believe you call that progress.

    Grumpy Bear

  • Ian Ludwig

    Similar issue-> Ballheads like the Kirk BH-1 show up as very questionable also. The lubrication in the ballhead is similar to the kind of lube used for guns so when/if it gets “sniffed” it will raise a big red flag thus having all your stuff searched.

    I am speaking from experience. I as well as my photo gear was treated with respect and the process only took ~12 minutes. The lesson I learned, check the ballhead and avoid the headache.

  • Someone Else

    Actually, I think it looks like a sex toy.

  • Drumbabe Klang

    We The People need to keep telling our elected officials (that we put there) that the TSA is ineffective and we don’t wish to continue bankrolling their screw ups. 

  • dlr

    I see your the first in line to bend over

  • Raymond Leung

    Obviously they need to change the shape to a dildo…

  • Richard

    I have one with fins, one without. Travel with the one sans-fins just because it takes up less space. Glaad I made that choice.

  • John Howard

    It gives me little comfort or confidence, knowing TSA is unable to discern real bombs from rubber dust blowers.

  • John Howard

    If it looks like a blower and it squeezes like a blower and puffs out air like a blower, then it must BE a bomb. 

    Wait.  That’s not how the saying goes… Is it?

  • Justin Javellana

    And they call the USA the land of the free. HA-HA

  • ..

    Ever hear of the 4th amendment?

  • Hmm…

    Ha!  Get your lens blower taken away, but they’ll let you board with a violin or uke!  You know, thin steel wire and a wooden stick.  Sounds like an instant garrote to me.

  • Soumit_ban

    Recently traveled through Paris (CDG) and DC (Dulles) with this cutie blower in my camera bag. On outbound leg CDG had a problem with my bag because I did not take out everything (yes, eeeverything) from the camera bag and put into neat little trays each (that would be about 15 trays). I just took out the laptop like they ask you to. Was made to go through a complete search of the bag with short working demo of the camera body. The blower did not win much favor, and was passed around among the officers present, till the collective decision was that it indeed just blew air. To their credit, both my gear and I was treated nonchalantly, which was more than what I was expecting at the time.

    This was around the time when the security personnel strike was going on in CDG, so lines were at least 30-45 minutes long before one reached the checkpoint. Severely downsized number of checkpoints were being manned by a small battery of airport staff, some of them did not seem to be security folks. Nerves were strained, bodies tired, but everyone managed to act sensibly. No problems whatsoever at Dulles (both legs) and CDG (return leg).

  • Andy Turp

    Well you know what Newark is an anagram of…

  • citizenguy

    I like when a hot humpy TSA guy wants to grope me on the front. I almost always wear a rubber cock ring, and when they feel that, they always pull me into a private room and ask me to show what it is. And, show, I do. Indeed!

  • Geoffrey Froment

    all i have to say about this story :

  • @Richphoto

    I have been traveling with this blower for over 10 years no problems

  • Dmitri Yakimov

    one of my last travels at the screening in Russian airport checkpoint lady nicely asked what’s that Giotto blower.
    I just answered that was a enema.
    But she happened to new what it really was =))))

  • Dave

     Geez, that’s a long time to be traveling. Space travel? Long layovers? I hope you and your blower get to your destination one of these years.

  • PaulJay

    Hello Americans! Feel saver already?

  • Kris J Boorman

    Never flown to or out of America, but on my way out of England the captain greeted me with “Whats that a ukulele? Great play some songs for us!”

    Articles like this make me reeeal happy I don’t live in the USA.

  • junyo

    The thing is, it’s not actually America America, it’s Jersey America. If it doesn’t look like a can of spray tan or a canoli they have no frame of reference.

    I kid, I kid.

    I’m not really kidding.

  • Edutron

    First off, real bombs do not look like that! They are IDIOTS!

  • Stephen Holmes


  • Mattmuirhead

    real rockets are made of metal and filled with explosives.  this looks nothing like that.  fucking TSA robots

  • Mattmuirhead

    real rockets are made of metal and filled with explosives.  this looks nothing like that.  fucking TSA robots

  • Mattmuirhead

    Imagine living in Palestine and having to go through humiliating searches 3-4 times a day.

  • Dan

    Kinds looks like an enema bottle…

  • mike

    The funny part is when the discard what they think is a bomb,…in the trash can inches from where they will stand for the next several hours

  • Logan Miller

    I haven’t had too much trouble with the TSA (not that that is an endorsement, by any means). However, on my flight out of Italy back to the US earlier this year, the security guy confiscated my new monopod I bought for the trip, my hair stuff, and my contact lens solution – all of which I flew into the country with without issue. 
    He told me that I needed to check them and then told me there wasn’t enough time to check them. So away they went! So frustrating!

  • Chris

    Fly often with my camera gear, bulb blower included. TSA does a thorough job and has never confiscated it. Here’s a little satire on the subject:

  • Jordanbutters

    It’s not just America, I had my Rocket Blower confiscated at Grenoble airport in France. DESPITE me demonstrating that it wasn’t a bomb by squeezing it, I still wasn’t allowed to take it on my journey with me.

  • burgess taylor

    It doesn’t suck.  It blows ;-)

  • Fishnose

     No-one outside of the US gives a shit about any amendments.

  • Fishnose

    Strange how things can vary. Recently I flew in and out of several European countries with a huge photo backpack crammed to the brim (weighed 12 kilos) with fancy photo equipment etc. It slid smoothly through the x-ray machine every time, no-one even raised an eyebrow – and off I went.