FAA Succumbs To Reason

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It's not often we can report that a pilot complained to the FAA about an unreasonable regulation, and -- a mere nine months later -- the pilot came away saying, "We asked the FAA to be reasonable -- and they were." But that's what happened to Dan Nachbar, a pilot in Amherst, Mass., who built his own small experimental blimp and wanted to take passengers for rides. The FAA's way to do that would have been for Nachbar to get an FAA airship pilot certificate. But since that rating presumes that the airship floats via helium, while Nachbar's depends on hot air, he thought the training would be "utterly pointless." He explained to the FAA that his certificates to fly both hot-air balloons and powered aircraft should qualify him to act as captain aboard Alberto, his homebuilt blimp. The FAA mulled it over and eventually agreed, and Nachbar can now take passengers aloft in his "aerial yacht." The project recently was profiled in the Boston Globe (featuring a video) and on National Public Radio.