AVmail: October 3, 2011
Thanks to all those who elaborated on the third class medical "Question of the Week," but there isn't enough cyberspace to run all of your responses. Here's a sampling, starting with two letters that make the point and counterpoint.
The Right Track
I fully agree with the AOPA/EAA proposal. It would open the Sport Pilot classification to a wide selection of used, certified airplanes with a lower cost and better load capacity (especially for us big guys). The Sport Pilot rule has been a big disappointment in regards to the types and cost of airplanes available to fly under the rule. It has certainly kept me from participating.
On the Other Hand ...
I don't think a driver's license should replace a third class medical, as the Florida department of motor vehicles just sent me a new license good for eight years, and they haven't even seen me in over six years. For all they know, I might have a seeing-eye dog, plus the fact I'm 79 years old. I only fly now with a CFI or another licensed pilot for safety reasons, although I'm still current.
Bigger Is Easier
I bought a Cessna 162 for my wife to learn in. I also figured there would be future use if I did not pursue the time and expense for a special medical exemption. Well, it's a fun plane to fly but harder to fly than a 182 and a little less safe in some conditions.
A 182 is a very stable, safe plane, and the constant speed prop makes power settings fixed, requiring less work. Why would this type of plane not be allowed for driver's license medical?
This is a great idea and past due. However, why the fixed gear restriction? If you're too incapacitated to flip the gear switch, you're certainly too incapacitated to fly the plane! Seems to be to be an unnecessary/unreasonable restriction.
A worthy goal, but the FAA is not in the business of giving up territory. A better idea would be to increase max weight for light sport aircraft to 1,600 lbs. Many economical and reliable two-seat aircraft would suddenly become available. Too easy!
I have no interest in dropping the third class medical if night is excluded. I have little interest if IFR is excluded.
Two Out of Three
I enjoy your news coverage and "POTW." In today's gallery there is a nice photo taken from an interesting perspective titled "Dakota Cockpits Alive!" The plane in the foreground is not a Dakota; it's a DC-2.
From this angle, notice the different engine cowlings than on the DC-3 and the "headlights" at the bottom of the nose. If viewed from the front, the narrower fuselage and shorter wingspan of the DC-2 are also evident.