AVmail: Oct. 24, 2005

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Reader mail this week about how old (or young) pilots should be, how much flying costs and much more.


FedEx Crash

I am a resident of Charlottetown and have known Nancy Chase Allen for about two years (NewsWire, Oct. 10). I have seen this pilot in action and she was a pilot and one half. This lady always spends about one hour checking the aircraft inside and out before she starts on a flight from Charlottetown to Moncton. This flight in only about 45 minutes. I would be very surprised if she missed checking the wings with her hands. She was too professional to miss this important check . Nancy was a flight instructor prior to her career with Morningstar. I did some training with Nancy and believe me you don't get away from missing even the smallest item on my checklist.

David Corrigan


Flying Costs QOTW

My comment [to the Question of the Week, Oct. 12] is this: This fuel thing is just like the medical crisis in this country. Nobody does anything about the cause; we just keep paying and paying. And yes, GA will eventually be cut out of the picture. But we can do something about it, and that is to stop buying fuel for about six months, and they will be begging us to buy their fuel, and at very reduced prices. The American consumer is king, but we just don't realize it.

Chuck Gilpatrick


I do not own my own plane, but do belong to a flying club. Even so, I'm feeling the pinch of higher prices and it's on the verge of affecting the amount of time I fly.

Dennis Price


Airline Stories

I must respond to "name withheld" who wrote Airline Stories (AVmail, Oct. 10) because I'm in exactly the same boat, having just retired early from probably the same carrier. And, no, I didn't want to retire.

I agree totally with his post, and the problem is a national problem, not only an airline problem, and our government has done little to solve it. We do need a new administration that is sensitive to the problems inflicted on airline employees that could be solved.

Having said that, economic problems are not only privy to the airline industry. Just look at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) Web site and you can see that there are 3500 plans with 1/2 million participants, and the PBGC is $23 billion in the hole (2004). When the rest of the airline industry terminates their plans as well as thousands of other businesses, the bailout will make the S&L look like kids play, and eventually there will be a solution.

My point is: Don't discourage your kid from an aviation career. Things go in cycles and it will come back. Maybe not like it use to be, but there are not a ton of better careers right now, unless you're self employed. Do encourage him to have a back up, as you would in any career.

Go flying ...

Larry [last name withheld by request]


Age Discrimination

I think it is ridiculous for any pilot licensing administration to be overly concerned about granting piloting privileges to persons just because they turned 80 (NewsWire, Oct. 20).

The fact of the matter is that some people are healthier at 80 than others who just turned 60.

It is not the age factor but rather it's the current medical examination and related physical assessment that is important.

Because all licensed pilots are required to prove and substantiate that they are medically fit and otherwise technically qualified to fly as pilot-in-command, the conducting of an objective study to focus only on the competency of a particular age group alone, is really a non-issue because as far as determining the risk factor, there are a host of other considerations to be taken into account such as training, total flying time, recent experience, types of aircraft flown, weather, etc.

Bill Peppler

AVweb Replies:

As far as we know, there has not been any concern from the "pilot-licensing" agencies, the concern about pilots over 80 is due to the fact that insurers have raised their premiums, and AOPA is trying to find if there is evidence to support considering them a higher risk (or not).

Mary Grady
NewsWriter, Editor


I take strong exception to your comments in the Oct. 20 Newswire regarding young pilots.

You have chosen a small number of incidents involving young pilots to make your point. In doing so, you ignore similar poor decisions made by older pilots. In the latter group I would include the pilot who nearly hit a helicopter while flying drunk over Philadelphia; several of the DC ADIZ incursion pilots; and many, many older pilots who have succumbed to the desire to fly under bridges.

Foolish behavior is not confined to young pilots. In fact, it takes a lot of maturity to undertake flight training in the first place -- more than your average 16- to 25-year-old may have.

I hope that you will retract your opinions on young pilots and concentrate instead on poor judgment by pilots of all ages.

Mark Smith


I just read your article on how young is too young for licensing and soloing aircraft, and I have to say I am a little alarmed. If there is one thing aviation does for youth it is to help them build judgment and confidence. Changing the minimum age for solo and licensing is unfair to the many young kids who have the ambition, skill, and good judgment making skills necessary to become a pilot. Also, any good flight training program helps to develop these skill sets to a higher degree than any individual is required to maintain in nearly any other industry. How are kids to further their life and the life of aviation if we change these rules?

We should not let these few individuals with poor judgment-making skills ruin aviation for the rest of us. Furthermore, if these two kids were flying at night together, where was their instructor and how did these two kids get access to the airplane?

I soloed a glider when I was 14, an airplane at 16, and now I'm 21 and I own my own flight school and aircraft. I've been flying longer than I've been walking. I also fly SIC on a Citation Bravo. (The story of the 22-year-old who stole the Citation VII [NewsWire, Oct. 13] has me worried as well). I strive in my flight school to see that kids get to experience aviation at an early age, and get the same great benefits aviation gave me as a kid. In my flight school our airplanes are locked up in the hanger every night, and no one is allowed to fly them without my knowledge any time day or night. When a student or renter is going to go flying I get a written or verbal account of exactly where they will be and what time they will return with the predicate that they contact me upon returning the aircraft.

I have a 17-year-old right now who is a pre-solo student, and he has exercised excellent judgment skills on every lesson leading to his solo; when it comes to weather or flight rules, he is on top of things. While on the other hand I've had a couple of 40- and 50-year-old students I have had to drop as students because they exercised extremely poor judgment and broke the rules.

Common sense is not necessarily an age issue, and to legislate common sense based upon age would clearly be unfair to the many fine young and old individuals who are or are becoming excellent pilots. Pilots I would fly with any day.

Erick Teeters


DCA Re-Opening To GA

The re-opening (and the mandatory process) of DCA to GA would make a great skit for Saturday Night Live (NewsWire, Oct. 20. The absurdity would be really funny if not so distressing. Hasn't anyone in government figured out that real criminals/terrorists do not follow the rules (People doing "stupid" stuff is not the issue here.). If terrorists stole a business jet (with the intent of doing a bad deed), does anyone really believe they would follow the procedures so that they could actually land at DCA and then do something bad? I would think the bad guys would do something like 9/11 where a bunch of rules were not followed. Where are the government officials with any common sense?

Hugh Campbell


Father's Day TFR

Wow -- that Father's Day TFR article (Airmanship, Oct. 16) was really great! Thank you.

Ed Chromczak


Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.