AVmail: April 9, 2012
Letter of the Week: Medical Exemption Restrictions Questioned
I am a commercial, multi-engine, instrument-rated pilot who now flies totally for recreational purposes. I am a strong supporter of EAA and FAA's proposed exemption [to Class 3 medical requirements]; however, I feel that the aircraft limitations in it should be eliminated.
The focus of this exemption should be totally on the pilot's medical fitness to fly recreationally, not the type of aircraft he flies. Recreational flying is recreational flying, regardless of the type of aircraft involved!
Many of us, including me, fly two-place aircraft whose power far exceeds 180 hp. My current one is a Yak 52, which also has retractable gear and a constant-speed propeller.
As the exemption currently reads, you would be eliminating almost all of the IAC aircraft and warbird operators, many of the thousands of Vans RV owners who employ the 200hp IO-360, and countless numbers of other experimental aircraft. Virtually all of these are recreational pilots. You would also be eliminating owners of aircraft like the Cessna 182.
With respect to medical certification, I consider myself as safe in my aircraft as would be a pilot with lesser experience in, for example, a Cessna 172.
If, under the current third-class medical certification process, I am fit to fly my aircraft, then under this exemption, I would certainly be as fit to fly the same aircraft. Nothing about my piloting qualifications would change, but I would be more fully aware of my medical condition and those factors affecting it.
Eliminate the aircraft restrictions from the exemption, even if it means a tougher political fight with the FAA.
Does the Flight Medical System Work?
Regarding the article about the 81-year-old pilot who was incapacitated at the controls, I consider that AOPA, CBAA, EAA, etc. should make a fuss over this described incident.
The entire purpose of requiring pilots to undergo periodic physical examinations is to prevent pilots from becoming incapacitated while at the controls of an aircraft.
Obviously, something is not working as intended. I consider that there should be a full-blown investigation as to why or how this incident occurred. If we let this incident go by without an investigation as to the cause, then we are making a mockery of the entire process of pilots having to undergo regular physical examinations by approved examiners.
Don't Touch the Prop
In a recent Picture of the Week gallery was "Happy First Flight in a Europa," by Martin Tuck of Wichita, Kansas.
I was taught (and continue to teach my kids, grandkids and others) to never unnecessarily touch the propeller of an aircraft. Yes, I know engine is off, but in my opinion it is very bad judgment to let someone actually hold on to the propeller as in this picture! Think it through. It's not worth the risk. The picture would have been better even if she was standing behind or to the front of propeller.
Aldrin Was a Scientist, Too
Nice article on Harrison Schmitt, but there is one correction: Buzz Aldrin was the first scientist astronaut. He was the Air Force's second pilot to be awarded a doctorate in Science from MIT, before his moon landing with Neil Armstrong.
The first USAF pilot/scientist was Francis Hale II, father of a member of my EAA chapter — 1114 in Apex, North Carolina. I have a picture of Hale and Aldrin at MIT on the day they received their doctorates. Hale became a professor of aerospace engineering at NCSU after retiring from the Air Force.
Schmitt might have been the first civilian scientist astronaut, however.
What If He'd Had a Gun?
Regarding the airline pilot whose bizarre actions required an unscheduled landing and detention: A subject for discussion would be whether or not this incident has any bearing on airline pilots carrying weapons. I would hate to think a similar situation could arise and that particular pilot was armed.