AVmail: June 25, 2009
Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.
Letter of the Week: Age 65 Rule
Regarding your article "APA Uses Continental 61 to Support Age 60 Rule": Scott Shankland's comments are biased and not founded in fact or reality. The referenced pilot could have just as easily been under age 60 and died of a heart attack. Many do. The causes related to heart attacks are tied to genetics and physical fitness, not age. Depending on the individual, one may live a very long life without any heart condition. It is not related to age.
In your article, you stated the FAA had changed the age 60 limit to age 65. Not true. Congress made the change after we lobbied them for more than a decade.
Also, I'd like to know why you interviewed a pro-age 60 pilot but failed to give equal coverage to pro-age 65 pilots?
Actually, we did not ask for age 65 as the new retirement age for airline pilots in the legislation. In fact, we asked for, and got written into the legislation, that pilots could retire at their individual social security retirement age. Thus, there would have been no fixed age for retirement — we believe a fixed age is wrong. However, Sen. Stevens came out of conference one day about four years ago and said he could not get consensus so he was changing the age limit to match the ICAO's standard of age 65. That's how we ended up with age 65 — not because we asked for it.
Now I read that, as a result of the Colgan Air crash, the FAA wants to backround check everyone for any previous failed check rides. So if you were 17 and blew a private ride, for any reason whatsoever, your future as a professional aviator is doomed?
One would think that if an applicant blew a ride years earlier and was a "bad stick" that this would come out during a proper course and test for an advanced rating! Why doesn't the FAA start making students take their rides with a designated examiner (or, better yet, an FAA employee) who is not associated with his or her school?
Thirty-two years ago, when I was ready for my instrument check ride, everyone — instructors and students alike — lived in fear of a ride with the FAA. My instructor insisted on it. He said that he was confident that my skills would see me through with anybody. Through the years, I have known many instrument pilots who have never had the confidence to fly actual. Some had flown with instructors who themselves had never seen the inside of a cloud!
As an airline and GA pilot, it is becoming increasingly very clear that TSA's mission (hear the podcast) is always more about control than security. GA represents freedom and liberty for those who have the discipline to learn to fly. TSA is the antithesis of freedom and liberty.
AOPA can have all the daily conversations they want with TSA. AOPA can beg and plead all it wants for minor relief from nefarious TSA regulations, and they may get a bit of relief, but it is a master/slave relationship, and TSA knows it. By definition, TSA must ignore the U.S. Constitution. It could not operate and survive otherwise. It is much later than the gentleman from AOPA thinks.
Noticed you didn't test the second "doggy anchor" in your video. They are commonly referred to as tent/canopy anchors and have serious holding ability. I wouldn't trust the tested products to tie down an ultralight.
Angel Flight Requirements
I am asking you to run a clarification in response to your article on the changes to pilot requirements for Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, Mercy Medical Airlift and Airlift Hope America.
As President of the Air Care Alliance, an organization that acts as a forum for more than 70 Public Benefit Flying organizations, including many Angel Flight groups, I feel it is necessary to clarify a couple of points in the article:
- First, these changes in volunteer pilot requirements only affects those pilots flying missions for the three named groups. All other volunteer pilot organizations are still operating under their individual guidelines.
- Secondly, volunteers need to understand that pilot requirements vary from group to group and that they should contact the individual groups to determine if they meet the requirements to fly for that particular group.
- Lastly, I would encourage pilots of all qualifications to seek out volunteer pilot organizations and get involved. While they may not yet have the qualifications to fly patients, there are many, many other volunteer pilot activities they can participate in with public benefit flying organizations. For a complete listing of public benefit flying organizations, go to the Air Care Alliance web site or see the Fly4Life display and website about the promotion of public benefit flying by the EAA at this summer's AirVenture.