Inhofe's Pilot Bill of Rights

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If you like your irony spread as thick as apple butter on biscuits, you'll enjoy this recent speech by Senator James Inhofe in the U.S. Senate. (mirrored at right) The occasion of the speech was to explain a bill Inhofe is introducing that would establish a pilot's Bill of Rights, presumably protecting us all from FAA enforcement overreach. That's fine as far as it goes, but I viewed the speech with what I can only describe as a sour reaction.

The reason, of course, is that what prompted Inhofe's bill appears to be his own run-in with the FAA following an incident last October in Port Isabel, Texas when he landed when he landed his Cessna 340 on a closed runway occupied by a work crew. The workers evidently thought the encounter close enough to run for the tullies. A subsequent FAA investigation and potential enforcement action netted the Senator a slap on the wrist, with a recommendation for additional training. It's natural to believe that Inhofe's status as a Senator got him special treatment. I have no way of knowing that.

But it doesn't bother me much. What does bother me is that Inhofe never conceded that he did anything wrong and insisted that no one ever checks closed-runway NOTAMs anyway. This was rightly taken as an affront by those of us who duly check NOTAMS before every flight and who would take swishing a work crew very seriously.

That Inhofe did not (and still doesn't) rankles and, for me at least, tarnishes what might otherwise be a laudable effort to balance a pilot's chances in an enforcement action. At one point, he seems to compare his own tussle with the FAA to that of Bob Hoover nearly two decades ago. Hoover was caught up in an enforcement debacle that clearly was not of his own doing. The same can't be said of Inhofe, so I can't get myself too outraged that he had to wait a few months for phone recordings of the runway event he precipitated.

I think most people look at such events with a fair mind and (mostly) apolitically. But a fair-minded person, and especially pilots, take a dim view of people who make mistakes and then fail to take responsibility for them with an acknowledgement and/or apology. (This is number 2 on the list of five attitudes that lead to accidents: Anti-authority and the inability to accept criticism from others.) For as much as we all despise the FAA's occasionally heavy handed enforcement actions, we are even less respectful of sloppy piloting and arrogance that casts a dark shadow over the entire industry. That threatens GA's survival just as much as the FAA over regulation does. Inhofe's arrogance diminished us all. His bill doesn't fix that.

If there's bright spot in this dismally poor example of airmanship, maybe it's this: If Inhofe's bill passes into law, perhaps people truly maligned by the FAA's enforcement system will benefit. Given the state of general aviation, I suppose we should be happy with support from any quarter, even if bumbling incompetence inspired it. Sometimes I think if it weren't for low standards, we wouldn't have any standards at all.

Comments (81)

Paul, I could not agree more. Senator Inhofe's incident was marked by a series of appalling errors in decision-making. These have been compounded by his completely unrepentant and arrogant remarks after the fact. Some of the things that he said border on the mind-bogglingly stupid. For instance, he said that checking NOTAMS ”probably” is “technically” something a pilot should do, but “people who fly a lot just don't do it.” Even more amazing, he later proceeded to say that despite his Texas experience he “won’t make any commitment” to check them every time he flies.

If he was truly interested in serving as an ambassador for GA, he would have said: "I made a mistake. I'll be more diligent next time." Rather than admit any wrongdoing, he somehow holds a perverted belief that he can get by with blaming the system. His comparison of the Texas incident to the Bob Hoover case is a really slimy move, too. (continued)

Posted by: ERIC BASILE | July 11, 2011 3:50 AM    Report this comment

Much to my chagrin, the alphabet soup groups are taking this opportunity to pander to the Senator and get behind his bill. I raised this issue with EAA and asked them why they're affording him an opportunity to showcase his bill at AirVenture, while giving him a free pass on the fact that his reckless acts gave the rest of GA a black eye. In typical softpedal fashion, EAA replied: (I'm paraphrasing here) we need to focus on the message of the bill and not so much the messenger. Opportunities like this don't come along very often. Sometimes in Washington we don't get to choose our allies. Etc., etc.

The simple fact is that Senator Inhofe's arrogant, noncompliant attitude towards his preflight responsibilities as PIC, as well as his refusal to acknowledge or apologize for the hazards he created in this incident, are shameful and reflect poorly on the general aviation piloting community (the 3 recent TFR violations at Camp David don't help, either!!)

I think we can all agree that no amount of rules and regulations by themselves will ever improve our accident rate. Instead, to improve safety and public perception of GA, we need pilots to step up and serve as role models and educators for their fellow aviators. Senator Inhofe may be a friend of GA, but he is not a role model. The joke of a punishment he received from the FAA, as well as the backslapping reception he's received from GA organizations, have only served to reinforce his belief he did nothing wrong.

Posted by: ERIC BASILE | July 11, 2011 3:53 AM    Report this comment

Succinctly put, Mr Bertorelli.

Posted by: BOB GILCHRIST | July 11, 2011 4:17 AM    Report this comment

Consider that Inhofe may have very well set a precedent in future enforcement actions. Land on a closed runway, even put lives in danger, then show total disregard for the whole situation -- get remedial training. Why is that fair when people that bust TFRs get a suspension? Or why is this fair when people that enter the pattern improperly get 509 rides? I'd think either situation would be the other way around.

Posted by: JAMES T FORTUNE | July 11, 2011 4:20 AM    Report this comment

Inhofe is no Bob Hoover. Inhofe is an embarrassment to all of GA. If something good comes of all this then fine, but how I wish it could have come from some other way by someone else.

Posted by: Rod Pollard | July 11, 2011 7:09 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I received a similar response from the "other" alphabet group:

"Thanks for your reply. I agree that the issue at hand here is two sided- and one side can be construed as to serve the other. We'd all like more help when it comes to enforcement, but I also completely understand your point. I appreciate your feedback."

Does the end really justify the means? From my perspective, the groups that supposedly represent us as pilots should be castigating Inhofe, not coddling him.

Posted by: HARRY CLARK | July 11, 2011 7:11 AM    Report this comment

The Pilot Bill of Rights being introduced by Senator Inhofe is long overdue and should be strongly supported by the aviation community. The FAA enforcement process is heavily slanted in favor of the FAA, and often results in excessive or inappropriate penalties against aviation personnel. It seems strange that, for as important an issue as this is, how quiet aviation organizations and media have been on this subject for the past decade. Without condoning Senator Inhofe’s actions, it would behoove the aviation community to take advantage of this window of opportunity, and stand behind this bill as well as other similar changes to policies and regulations

Posted by: Paul Dawson | July 11, 2011 7:42 AM    Report this comment

Like driving, flying is a privilege, not a right. Inhofe's "I'm the victim" attitude is a poor substitute for admitting his errors, and using his Senate status to " correct " this "wrong" is only self-serving. What arrogance!

Posted by: Richard Smith | July 11, 2011 7:53 AM    Report this comment

Why are our "elected servants" so arrogant? Sen Inhofe represents what most Wash DC representation considers their right. Can anyone tell me what outcome the average pilot has had in a similar situation? Assuming other pilots have done such a poor job of flying. We all must respect the system even as we try to improve it.
I'm in the "outraged" camp!

Posted by: John Brecher | July 11, 2011 8:22 AM    Report this comment

Only in the never-neverland that is Washington DC can a person royally screw up, bust FARs, fail his duties as PIC and instead of issuing a mea culpa, change the rules. Inhofe definitely got a by from the feds on this one. You'd think he'd just count his lucky stars and go home.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | July 11, 2011 8:25 AM    Report this comment

It's a good cause, sure. But can we PLEEEZ have a new poster child?

Posted by: Glenn Killinger | July 11, 2011 8:32 AM    Report this comment

Senator Inhofe may have royally screwed up and failed to acknowledge that fact. But if that is what it takes to get the legislature to reign in the bureaucratic and arrogant FAA, and give GA pilots equal protection under the law, then I'm all for forgetting the transgressions and patting the senator on the back and telling him, "Attaboy!"

Posted by: Charles Brame | July 11, 2011 8:37 AM    Report this comment

Paul, well written. Thanks.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 11, 2011 9:00 AM    Report this comment

Paul - I couldn't have said it better. To miss a particular NOTAM could be an accident (I've done it), but to land on runway marked closed and occupied by workers could be considered criminal - certainly criminally dangerous. And then, not to fess up and beg for apology. Amazing. All I can say is: he's a politician!

Posted by: Joe Shelton | July 11, 2011 9:04 AM    Report this comment

Loved the neat shots from the Flying Legends show at Duxford.( Art. on the P-51 crash)

Thanks for the memory

F.Wilson Ex RAF type

Posted by: Frank Wilson | July 11, 2011 9:14 AM    Report this comment

It is no wonder why the FAA can over regulate general aviation. We beat up on each other! Rather than thank Senator Inhofe for his support to GA and ask for more support we condemn him in a forum. If we have issues with his flying write him and explain to him why. Then ask him for more support for GA and encourage him to raise his personal standards of flying.

Posted by: Unknown | July 11, 2011 9:41 AM    Report this comment

If I had one dollar for every time a pilot did not check for all notams for every flight he made I would up there with Bill Gates in the wealth department.

Posted by: ARTHUR THOMPSON | July 11, 2011 9:44 AM    Report this comment

From one article I read, it appears he's claiming the closed-runway NOTAM was not published until days after his incident. Could that be true?

We need to yell at him for his mistakes and support him when he works to make things better. I know that's a difficult position to be in.

Posted by: leave blank | July 11, 2011 9:54 AM    Report this comment

Jim Inhofe was dangerously and recklessly wrong when he decided to land on a closed runway scattering construction workers and bouncing over vehicles to avoid a crash. I like the guy but not his decision making as a pilot in this situation. Before a flight get all available information and fly safe. Supporting this "Pilot Bill of Right" is sending the wrong message, it just does not seem a sincere effort.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | July 11, 2011 10:12 AM    Report this comment

Jim Inhofe was dangerously and recklessly wrong when he decided to land on a closed runway scattering construction workers and bouncing over vehicles to avoid a crash. I like the guy but not his decision making as a pilot in this situation. Before a flight get all available information and fly safe. Supporting this "Pilot Bill of Right" is sending the wrong message, it just does not seem a sincere effort.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | July 11, 2011 10:13 AM    Report this comment

Mr. Bertorelli, you are right on the mark. As much as I'd like to do away with red tape and speed up the FAA "justice system", it really irked me that nobody (except Avweb), especially the so-called alphabet groups, has had the balls to really call out Senator Inhofe for his lack of apology and acknowledgement of his own mistakes. I can only conclude that since he's a powerful man, they're afraid of him. Contrast the FAA's treatment of this Senator (if they did indeed give him preferential treatment) with how the IRS treats famous tax cheaters; they use the opportunity to make an example of them. But then, politicians are so rarely held accountable for anything these days; perhaps it's just par for the course.

Posted by: CRISTA WORTHY | July 11, 2011 10:21 AM    Report this comment

>>If Inhofe's bill passes into law, perhaps people truly maligned by the FAA's enforcement system will benefit.

Posted by: Robert Davison | July 11, 2011 10:23 AM    Report this comment

Can anyone tell me where to donate money to oppose Senator inhofe in the next election? This arogant jerk makes all pilots look bad -- and his extremely poor judgement and failure to execute a go-around with people on the runway reinforces the idea that private aviation is a safety risk for people on the ground.

Please help retire inhofe.

Posted by: D. M. Perry | July 11, 2011 11:10 AM    Report this comment

Great article, Paul.

Posted by: ANTHONY NASR | July 11, 2011 11:13 AM    Report this comment

If Inhofe isn't America's most clueless senator, he's definitely in the bottom five. With this kind of friend, GA doesn't need enemies.

He should shut up and be glad his privileged position got him the slap on the wrist he received for endangering so many lives. Instead, he has the brass to whine like he's the victim. What incredible arrogance.

Posted by: Dan Luke | July 11, 2011 11:34 AM    Report this comment

They don't give those airport jobs to just anybody .If they can't stay heads up, and run like gazelles, they never should have passed medical screening!

100 points, if you can even hit one!

Too funny!

Posted by: Ron Brown | July 11, 2011 11:35 AM    Report this comment

A pilots biil of rights law is L O N G overdue!!
Has any of you had to deal with the FAA medicals lately? or any minor infraction?
The senator has my vote!

Posted by: Robert Brown | July 11, 2011 11:59 AM    Report this comment

Devil's advocate here.

It always amazes me how so many people reach conclusions. To the best of my knowledge, Paul Bertorelli has never directly interviewed Sen. Inhofe, the runway workers nor any of the FAA investigators involved in the original incident.

Thus, I believe he presents an opinion based on information gleaned from other (main stream) media, as do most bloggers, unfortunately. We all knnow how accurate main stream media is, right?

I don't know Sen. Inhofe, anyone here know directly of his arrogance? Nor can I vote for him, but I appreciate his efforts to make some changes in a system he became personally involved in, regardless.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | July 11, 2011 12:17 PM    Report this comment

Paul - do you check notams before "every" flight? Ever drop below 500' agl? Ever land when the weather is just a little bit below VFR minimums? Ever get ice?

And you want to flame Sen. Inhofe for proposing a law that might actually bring some common sense to an agency that feels due diligence is reading and understanding a 20 page weather briefing before a 50 nm flight???

I don't get it!

Posted by: Josh Johnson | July 11, 2011 12:43 PM    Report this comment


Have you even bothered to read any of the Senator's public statements regarding the incident? The incident report, witness statements, and telephone conversations from are all a matter of public record, and are freely available on the Web. Among other things, the Senator angrily confronted the airport workers, demanding to know what they were doing on the runway, and claiming he was supposed to have "unlimited airspace." (That is a direct quote.)

Mr. Inhofe gave public statements to a number of news outlets following the incident. He admitted he failed to check NOTAMS. He claimed his secretary had called the FBO the day prior and they didn't say anything about a runway closure. Later, he claimed this was all the fault of some unnamed airport person who has a vendetta against him.

Last time I checked, nobody held a gun to the Senator's head and forced him to land on a runway littered with vehicles, equipment, and personnel. To this day, he refuses to admit he did anything wrong, refuses to admit he was a hazard to persons and property on the airport, and refuses to promise that he'll check NOTAMS in the future.

This pattern of behavior to deflect responsibility is painfully obvious. To claim that it's simply the fault of a biased mainstream media is an incredibly lame argument, Edd.

Posted by: ERIC BASILE | July 11, 2011 12:48 PM    Report this comment

Josh, Not checking NOTAMS is a simple mistake; but intentionally landing a big twin on an "X" runway is inexcusable.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 11, 2011 1:50 PM    Report this comment

Mark, I agree. So is flying too close to clouds, not following a stepdown fix that has been altered as per a NOTAM, busting minimums (had a friend die from that), buzzing, and so on. I betcha I can come up with a list of "unexcusables" that just about everyone here has done. Only thing is, usually no one is around to notice your occasional lapse in judgement.

All I'm saying is get off your high horses and appreciate what the senator is trying to pass for us in Congress!

PS - ask any lawyer. Inhofe's response to the looming enforcement action - while it might rub some the wrong way, was brilliant as far as getting off the hook.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | July 11, 2011 2:17 PM    Report this comment

"Paul - do you check notams before "every" flight?"

Yes. Every single time. In fact, that's often all I check. I've always done that, but I really got religion in 2004 when I just about departed into a presidential TFR and would have had I not taken that extra beat to check the NOTAMS files.

The wherewithal exists to know this information and I don't want to be the dumbass who blunders into something simply because I was too lazy or too dumb to check.

But this is beside the point. Checking NOTAMS is just a sideshow. The main event is the attitude after the fact. Elsewhere on AVweb, we have the audio tapes, we have statements from the Senator and press reports. He made it quite clear that he did nothing wrong.

So while I can support the Bill of Rights idea and would, I cannot defend that attitude nor view it as anything but harmful to the cause of GA. If you want to, be my guest.

I'm not sure where the balance sheet comes out here. As Bob Davison points out, this bill will probably die. But we're struck with the Senator's antics.

And by the way, I have missed NOTAMS, but not for lack of trying. And if I did, I'd admit it and show some contrition.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 11, 2011 2:18 PM    Report this comment

Edd, we have the recordings of all this stuff--the runway workers and so forth, on AVweb. I suggest you take a listen and then we'll see if you still want to play defense attorney.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 11, 2011 2:20 PM    Report this comment

No, the sideshow is bringing up his runway incident to begin with. Here we have a guy trying to pass something that might actually help us and all you can do is flame Inhofe and the alphabet groups for it. That attitude is also harmful to GA!

Posted by: Josh Johnson | July 11, 2011 2:34 PM    Report this comment

Come on guys, nobody is flaming Inhofe for trying to help. He's being called down for loudly and publicly being the GA pilot none of us want to be, or have our friends think we are. What we have here is the classic "mother-in-law driving your new Cadillac over the cliff" situation. Like Paul, I support the move to give pilots subject to administrative actions a fairer shake, but given the public record I can't help concluding that the Senator is acting the arrogant, self-important ass.

Posted by: Glenn Killinger | July 11, 2011 3:15 PM    Report this comment

I wonder what excuse Inhofe would have used had he killed someone? Probably that it was their fault because they should have been able to run faster!

Posted by: george lazik | July 11, 2011 3:21 PM    Report this comment

Google around a bit and you'll find that AVweb is a little late to this story. It really broke elsewhere around July 6. But check out how all of those stories are played. All of them mention the runway incident in the lead if not the first sentence. Tulsa World has this quote from Inhofe: "I did nothing wrong. But at any time, I could have suffered the revocation of a license."

And this helps GA's cause? If we don't call this sort of thing out, I submit we are nearly as bad the perp. The alphabets won't do this because they can't. It would be counter interest. The rest of us can and should as part of striving to set a better example.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 11, 2011 3:44 PM    Report this comment

"....Edd, we have the recordings of all this stuff--the runway workers and so forth, on AVweb. I suggest you take a listen and then we'll see if you still want to play defense attorney...."

Thanks, I will do that.

Posted by: Edd Weninger | July 11, 2011 3:50 PM    Report this comment

I drafted the basis of the bill for Inhofe more than 10 years ago. This was just after he was successful in the passage of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights that has provided protection to us from the IRS. He declined to pursue the instant bill for his belief that most of the members of congress believed the FAA. Much like the public, even pilots, believe the FDA knows what they are doing.

Notwithstanding the issues surrounding Inhofe's known piloting ability and lack thereof, the specific incident and that he is basing much of his current position on Ms. Yodice, the bill is badly needed.

The FAA Legal Division has developed into an uneducated distortion of a govenrmental regulatory body that has simply forgotten, if ever taught, that its individual member's duty is to seek the truth, not to propagate the personal beliefs of the FAA'S ASI'S and agency policy. A knowledge that is based upon incorrect education and ego driven quest for power and a policy that has nothing to do with safety in aviation commerce. A policy that cost an accused an average legal bill of $6,000 to $8,000 to defend and overcome.

The bill is well overdue, it is needed and protects us all from the ever swelling of government regulation that cost us all directly and provides no useful purpose.

Anyone with a better idea should contact Senator Inhofe directly with that idea.

Posted by: Cliff Magee | July 11, 2011 3:53 PM    Report this comment

Paul, Get a personal interview with Senator Inhofe and report on it.

Posted by: Unknown | July 11, 2011 3:55 PM    Report this comment

I believe we asked, Ray. We got the statements we published instead. These contained the same "I did nothing wrong" quotes found in the daily press. Perhaps we could convince him to do a podcast.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 11, 2011 4:07 PM    Report this comment

"FDA knows what they are doing."

I think you meant FAA, there. Although the FDA has its own issues.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 11, 2011 4:08 PM    Report this comment

I listened to the tapes of the phone calls made by the airport workers and read the statements made by Senator Inhofe. He comes across as an arrogant jerk with no remorse for his
poor decision making as PIC.

I applaud AVweb and Paul Bertorelli for calling him on the carpet for his actions.

Posted by: Ric Lee | July 11, 2011 4:22 PM    Report this comment

I specifically referred to the FDA just to give a reference point outside of aviation and demonstrate the impact of public perceptions of goverment agencies.

Again, Inhofe is Inhofe. I certainly do not take any issue with any comments about him in this thread. What he has done is to provide an opportunity to level the playing field for airmen. Sieze the moment, contact your own members of congress and encourage them to give this some attention in a manner that will benefit airmen as a whole. Inhofe's case is history. The abuses of the FAA and NTSB are a continuing issue.

Posted by: Cliff Magee | July 11, 2011 5:31 PM    Report this comment

Inhofe is the worst poster child possible for this proposed legislation - and this arrogant neanderthal is the last person we in aviation (general or otherwise) ought to be rallying behind. Paul and Avweb are right to call him out.

Posted by: JOHN WIEGENSTEIN | July 11, 2011 6:17 PM    Report this comment

I agree and will stop there regarding Inhofe and respect the forum rules. It would personally be informative to hear from anyone that has read the actual proposed legislation and their thoughts regarding the need for, or lack thereof, for reform to the NTSB Rules of practice and procedure.

If you do believe there is a need for reform then any thought of how to do so such as federal legislation or rely upon the NTSB to make changes?

Posted by: Cliff Magee | July 11, 2011 6:50 PM    Report this comment

Well, that link did not come though. It was the Seattle Times, Jul 11, 2011, running an article by AP reporter Joan Lowy. No doubt the article is available at multiple other locations. Paul, how do you post a link?

Posted by: JOHN WIEGENSTEIN | July 11, 2011 8:10 PM    Report this comment

Anyone familiar with Inhofe's pronouncements on a number of subjects will not be surprised at his behavior at Port Isabel or his bumptious statements since then.

Yes, reform is needed in the FAA's treatment of pilots under review for alleged violations, but having an inept pilot like Inhofe as the spokesman for reform is counterproductive, to say the least.

Posted by: Dan Luke | July 11, 2011 8:12 PM    Report this comment

Thank the lord this guy is a Republican, Obama did not come up once. Maybe a first in an Avweb thread involving politics. Godwin's law did come up after 47 or so posts. Gotta say I am on Paul's side in that it is ok to be critical of the guy and still support the bill. I hope everyone here takes the time to write their representative.

Posted by: BILL ELLISON | July 11, 2011 10:41 PM    Report this comment

"Paul, how do you post a link?"

Unfortunately, you can't. We were being attack by human spammers posting links to everything from Rolex watches to handbags so we had to disable the ability to paste links directly. I apologize, but I think the tradeoff is worth it.
If the link is not too long, you can type it in without the www. affixed or paste it in the same way. Readers will figure it out.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 12, 2011 4:43 AM    Report this comment

"but having an inept pilot like Inhofe as the spokesman for reform is counterproductive"

The appearance is that he's doing it for HIS benefit; for his own future excursions from the FAR's.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 12, 2011 8:31 AM    Report this comment

In the past, when I critisized Mr. Inhofe for his run-in with the FAA, I was severely chastised for disparaging a great friend of general aviation. This not withstanding, I support his call for a pilots' bill of rights. I agree that Bob Hoover's troubles some years back are a great example of overreaching authority of a couple of FAA inspectors, whose unassailable "expert" assesment of Mr Hoover's mental state, caused him to lose his flying privelidges for a time. It cost him a great deal of money and time to prevail against the unlimited resources of Uncle Sam! This was outragious! Has anyone been ramp checked after a long tiring flight, with no cause? Hopefully this will be addressed.

Posted by: Steve Tobias | July 12, 2011 8:50 AM    Report this comment

In an effort to remove the Inhofe factor and address the bigger issues to benefit all FAA certified airmen, does anyone have a Congressmn or Senator that would introduce similar legislation? If so, lets all work together toward reform. Reform that is not designed to protect the inept and hazards to aviation. Reform to stop the abuses of the NTSB. Anyone ready to start?

Posted by: Cliff Magee | July 12, 2011 8:57 AM    Report this comment

Yes. On the House side, Sam Graves is chairman of the aviation caucus and a pilot. He's a sharp guy and sensitive to GA concerns.

I'll post a blog.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 12, 2011 9:40 AM    Report this comment

Just another arrogant Washington insider!!

Posted by: james corbett | July 12, 2011 10:05 AM    Report this comment

Paul sometimes you write about stuff best left alone and would prefer you play with your plane instead. My grandmother had a saying "don't look a gift horse in the mouth" or something like that.

Posted by: Steve Gris | July 12, 2011 9:16 PM    Report this comment

Best left alone? The inexcusably dangerous behavior of a prominent GA pilot should be swept under the rug? Hell, no.

Sorry, I don't see how that would benefit GA. Scofflaws should be called out for their bad behavior, not insulated from criticism. Guys like Inhofe harm us all. They should hear loud and clear that the pilot community does not support them.

Posted by: Dan Luke | July 12, 2011 9:49 PM    Report this comment

"Paul sometimes you write about stuff best left alone and would prefer you play with your plane instead"

In other words, gloss it over and sugar coat it. I would hope in this country we are still mature enough to analyze things dispassionately, and to separate the ideas from the personalities in ways that benefit us. I think there's an advantage in policing your own and to remain silent is tacit approval. I don't think that helps.

I understand not everyone feels this way, as you evidently don't. The dogs bark, the caravan moves on.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 13, 2011 5:09 AM    Report this comment

Richard Smith said,

"Like driving, flying is a privilege, not a right"

Please, let's not propagate or buy into that myth! Think: who told you that? Either a police officer, or someone from the DMV, right?

The Supreme Court (of the US - and, indeed, also those of several states) has repeatedly held that the Constitution protects liberty rights, including the right to travel, and that government regulations of those rights must therefore be reasonable and serve a legitimate purpose. In other words, you have a presumptive right to do fly and drive. That right is not unrestricted: it can be subject to regulations - but ONLY for valid public policy reasons. In contrast, privileges can be restricted for no reason: you can "unreasonably" restrict who may enter your home, or fly with you ("I just don't like that guy") but the government cannot do the same to your right to fly in public airspace - because flying is a right, NOT a privilege!

So, next time your local out-of-control regulator tries to tell you that flying, or driving, is a privilege, you can tell them it isn't: it's a regulated right, but not a privilege.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | July 13, 2011 11:55 AM    Report this comment

Like head up the gazoo mistakes made by me and others; I bet he doesn't do THAT again. The FAA has always been all powerful and the pilot is guilty until proven innocent. "Justice" rests with the individual FAA man unless a "journalist" needing his daily controversy gets into it. Then it becomes a terrible incident that Inhofe blundered into. If I did it;as far as I am concerned, it would be understandable, and of little or no consequence.

Posted by: George A Hutchinson | July 13, 2011 9:11 PM    Report this comment

I have sat here and read all of the comments. Wow! A lot of pontificating here along with the article. First i wonder if workers really "scattered" as was posted. Second I really really want to know if the notam didn't come out until days after the incident. As soon as that information is really really available I will make a opinion about this incident. In the meantime I support any new law or rule that will support innocent until proven guilty. There is way too much rush to judgement in the US these days.

Posted by: Stuart Baxter | July 13, 2011 9:19 PM    Report this comment

In reading the stream, two things come to mind:
1) The FAA are like umpires. Sometimes they seem unfair or inept and everyone gripes about them, but without them, the game is chaos.
2) I'm 56 and was taught in school that the ends never justify the means. Here the "ends" are a GA Bill of Rights and the "means" are (is) Inhofe. Given his conduct, I'm content to wait for a better means to the end.

Posted by: STEVEN KUEMMERLE | July 13, 2011 10:26 PM    Report this comment

This DC-based pilot finds it incomprehensible for someone to omit checking Notams before a flight. It literally adds 2 or 3 minutes to my DUATS or live briefer session. Unfortunately, the Senator's 'rules don't apply to me' attitude is typical of both parties here in the Capitol. To continue with the baseball analogy, as much as I'd like someone to go to bat for pilots with the FAA, I can't condone sending Inhofe up as our Designated Hitter.

Posted by: DAVID DINARDO | July 14, 2011 5:21 AM    Report this comment

I did a longish podcast yesterday with Sen. Inhofe. I'll try to post it today.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 14, 2011 5:36 AM    Report this comment

Can't wait to hear it, Paul.

The one thing that bothers me the most about the senator's gaffe is even if the runway closure wasn't NOTAM'd wouldn't you think he'd see crews & equipment on the runway inside a mile final, and have plenty of time to initiate a go-around? Also assuming there were big yellow Xs on the runway, how does one miss something like that?

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | July 14, 2011 8:47 AM    Report this comment

Thomas Boyle argues that flying is a right and not a priveledge. My pilots license says that I "have been found to be properly quaalified to exercise the priveledges of private pilot". And I have been subject many times to unreasonable restrictions-at least by my definition!

Posted by: Steve Tobias | July 14, 2011 10:25 AM    Report this comment

A few months ago on a flight to southeast Florida I had to go to an airport for fuel that wasn't on my flight plan because my radios went south. It was a VFR flight and the new airport was non-controlled. I always fly over the top when that happens to check things out. If there were Xs on the runway they were not very visual from the air. Looking down there was construction equipment on the runway that I would have hit if I tried to land. There was also what looked like a Piper Arrow that tried to land on the grass and went through the fence. If I had been in a heavily loaded twin engine doing a wide down wind or a straight in approach, who knows what might have happen. My point being unless you are there to witness an event be careful with your speculations.

On another note you might not like public officials but they are the ones you have to deal with when you want a change in rules in the system. If your dislike of an elected official is so great one might become more active in trying to replace them.

Posted by: Unknown | July 14, 2011 10:42 AM    Report this comment

I was not there so I don't know what I can say about the Inhofe incident! There are 3 sides to every story their side, you'r side and the truth. However I think what he is doing now has a benefit to all of that fly. Remember the Q Tip Prop incident! The only thing that has changed in 3000 years is technology, people are all still the same. We all feel we are right some people feel they are more than right.
So lets take this incident as something we should appreciatte because with this bill passed we will all benefit from it!

Posted by: daniel buldini | July 14, 2011 11:32 AM    Report this comment

OK, I'm one who only occassionally checks NOTAMS because I've been operating from the same airports for more than 40 years.

If your interested, check for the multiple NOTAMS at KLGB or KSNA for today. Then explain to me what they all mean and how they relate to your flight.

My point is, I expect to get pertinent information from the ATIS in the air or from clearance delivery and ground control on departure.

Having a second home near L35, I can recall landing on a taxiway and later taking off from it when I found the runway X'd off for maintenanceon arrival. I advised unicom on both occasions. At your own risk and Have a good flight.

Apparently, the Senator did not have good relations with the people on the ground. No one responded to his call-in. I wonder where he bought his fuel?

Posted by: Edd Weninger | July 14, 2011 12:10 PM    Report this comment

Here on AVweb and numerous other places Inhofe is reported as saying "he didn't see the workers until it was too late to safely abort the landing." (Fox News, 7-10-11) Frankly, If you can't perform a go-around you shouldn't be flying, and I don't want this jerk sponsoring any bill that supposedly benefits me.

Posted by: D. M. Perry | July 14, 2011 12:49 PM    Report this comment

Mike Perry, that sounds about as bad as you say the senator is. I wish we all were as good of a pilot as you think you are. A lot of us are probably not or at least you probably don't think so. For me Inhofe can sponsor anything that will limit the FAA just a little.

Posted by: Unknown | July 14, 2011 5:29 PM    Report this comment

Podcast with Sen. Inhofe is now available in the podcast section.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | July 15, 2011 5:37 AM    Report this comment

Sorry, I over-reacted on my last post.

I feel stongly that the FAA has too much power regulating 3rd class flying.

Posted by: Unknown | July 15, 2011 7:38 AM    Report this comment

"Inhofe's arrogance diminished us all." Great article Paul. EFS. :-)

Posted by: BRADLEY SPATZ | July 15, 2011 11:04 AM    Report this comment

It is sad that the Senator's lack of professional pilot awareness reflects on GA, and he is seems to be still unaware of his transgression and safety violations. He seems to feel he is above the rules others are required to follow, so he wants to lower the rules to his level.

Posted by: David Winter | July 15, 2011 11:18 AM    Report this comment

Steve Tobias,

Yes, the regulators write the regulations, and talk as if flying were a privilege. So do the people issuing driver licenses.

But courts have repeatedly ruled that, whatever wording the regulators use, driving is a right, not a privilege.

The easiest way to lose your rights is to surrender them - like by referring to the right to fly as a "privilege" before proceeding to say something like "that we should be grateful (to the regulators) for (letting us have)." That's the thinking of a serf, not a citizen.

So let's think straight, even if our regulators wish we wouldn't!

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | July 15, 2011 4:25 PM    Report this comment

I wish there were more Thomas Boyles out there as pilots.
I realize there has to be rules for safe flying. I have no problem with that. But a simple part like a valve cover gasket at Aircraft Spruce that is for experimental planes sells for about half of what one that has FAA holy water sprinkled on it. For my 46 year old airplane that is just crazy.

Then there is the hoops one must jump through for medicals. Flying is a right? Not as far as the FAA is concerned. And there again a first class license maybe a different story.

Posted by: Unknown | July 15, 2011 7:53 PM    Report this comment

Paul, I really enjoyed your podcast with Sen. Inhofe. I doubt if it changed any of the minds with strong convictions against the Senator. But I'm glad you did it and I will write my local Senator in support of the bill. I will also write Senator Inhofe and express my dislike of third class medicals.

Posted by: Unknown | July 15, 2011 8:23 PM    Report this comment

Paul, your podcast with Sen. Inhofe left you behind allowing the Senator from Oklahoma to add further spin to his landing on a closed runway at Port Isabel, TX. There was more time spent on his excuses and his fear of others than in explaining the featured “Pilot’s Bill Of Rights”. Despite that, I found the “Pilot’s Bill of Rights” as a good bill and hard to argue against. Further, I suggest that ASOS minute weather transmissions include NOTAMS as it would cover the gap that exists between the time the NOTAM is sent out to the time it is disseminated via the NOTAM system. On the ground, DUATS briefings ( include Runway, taxiway, ramp/apron, aerodrome, obstruction, airspace and service NOTAMS. It is very a comprehensive report easily understood in plain language for beginning pilots or coded for advanced and professionals. I recommend it to my students and I use it before any flight it only takes a few minutes and they can be printed and carried on board.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | July 17, 2011 5:11 PM    Report this comment

There is nothing wrong with the Senators comments and I agree with his 'Pilots Bill of Rights" it is long over due. If you ever had a career as a professional pilot Paul, you would agree. The FAA is ready to strip a pilots certificate with hardly a chance to defend yourself.

Posted by: richard calarco | July 18, 2011 7:51 PM    Report this comment

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