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The International Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (IAOPA) is pressing the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to adopt the so-called driver’s license medical as the standard for all private pilots. At the recent World Assembly held in Chicago just before AirVenture 2016, the 63 delegates from 28 member nations passed the following resolution: “The IAOPA Secretary General (Craig Spence) shall work with ICAO towards formal acceptance of medical requirements for private pilots, that are based on national or state medical standards that are currently used for drivers of motor vehicles.” The ICAO standard is currently the same one now in place in the U.S. and most other flying nations and requires private pilots to have standardized medicals from designated doctors at regular intervals depending on their age. But the U.S., which has by far the most private pilots in the world, will be adopting a modified regime of medical requirements for pilots and it will not comply with ICAO standards.

As we’ve reported extensively, Congress has ordered the FAA to amend medical requirements for most private pilots to a system based mostly on self-certification and declaration. All pilots would be required to have at least one FAA medical but beyond that it would be up the pilot and his or her family doctor to determine their medical fitness. After the new rules are adopted, any U.S. pilots opting for self-certification will not be able to fly legally in other countries. The IAOPA resolution appears to go further than the current U.S. proposal in that there would be virtually no medical oversight for private pilots beyond what is required to maintain a driver’s license. Those requirements vary from state to state and country to country as well, particularly in the case of older drivers who must prove competence in some jurisdictions.

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The Coulson Air Tankers Martin Mars is back at its home base in British Columbia after being damaged in an accident at AirVenture 2016. CEO Wayne Coulson told AVweb the aircraft flew from Lake Winnebago to Port Alberni last Tuesday with temporary repairs to holes in the hull. The plane was immediately pulled to dry land on dollies after landing at its base on Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. “We actually pulled one of the patches off on takeoff,” said Coulson. The hull was punctured on an aborted takeoff (engine manifold pressure warning) after the aircraft had picked up more than 70,000 pounds of water in Lake Winnebago for its firefighting demonstration at AirVenture. The hull scraped the bottom of the shallow lake while the crew tried to taxi the aircraft back to the AirVenture seaplane base. Coulson said the ruptures are on the aircraft’s keel and will be difficult to repair. There is no timeline on the repairs

The mishap marred an otherwise successful trip for the aircraft, which is the largest operational flying boat in the world. Coulson is trying to sell the plane, known as the Hawaii Mars, for $3 million because it no longer has the firefighting contracts needed to keep the airplane flying. He said the company got about 15 sales leads and is entertaining four from entities that intend to keep the historic aircraft flying. He said some of the interested parties also want Coulson’s other flying boat, the Philippine Mars, which has been painted in U.S. Navy livery for a potential deal with the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. That deal has been tied up in government red tape on both sides of the border and the museum is also concerned that it doesn’t have hangar space for the giant aircraft, Coulson said.

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The builder of a replica of the Bugatti 100p racing plane was killed in the crash of the aircraft in Oklahoma on Saturday. NewsOn6 reported Scotty Wilson, of Tulsa, was flying the aircraft when it went down near Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base in west central Oklahoma. The aircraft was copied from a 1930s design by Ettore Bugatti who built a prototype that never flew because the Second World War started. Wilson and his team built the aircraft in Tulsa but the crash scene was about 200 miles west. Circumstances of the crash have not been released.

The Bugatti 100p had twin counterrotating props driving by a shaft to two motorcycle engines behind the cockpit. The replica was reverse engineered by the team from scratch in an effort partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign. The first flight of the replica was in August of 2015 but it went off the runway and damaged the prop and spinner. It flew again in October of 2015.

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A Newfoundland man faces multiple charges after an alleged joyride in a relative’s seaplane that ended with the aircraft upside down in a forest. The 32-year-old man reportedly helped himself to a relative’s Cessna 180 Thursday evening near the coastal town of Jeffrey’s in western Newfoundland. Taking a 59-year-old family member with him, the man took off, but apparently flew for only a few minutes as the floatplane crashed in a nearby wooded area, according to news reports. Authorities responded about 7 p.m. to an ELT signal, the CBC reported. Rescue crews and a local fire department found the passenger on foot with minor injuries and soon after found the younger man, who had fled in a truck, the CBC reported.

A police official told The Canadian Press the man was charged with flying without a license, dangerous aircraft operation and police obstruction, but “he is directly related to the owner of the plane, who does not want him charged with theft,” adding that the Cessna owner was “just happy” the two men weren’t seriously hurt. The older relative reported to police he had a seatbelt on during the flight and bumped his head in the crash, while the other man had a cut to his head and was limping. Police say he knew the aircraft, the Press reported, although it wasn’t clear if he had any piloting experience.

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Airplane shipments are down for the first half of 2016, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported Friday. There were 970 units shipped for the first six months of the year, a 4.5 percent decline. Billings for new airplanes fell 11 percent to $9.3 billion, while rotorcraft billings saw a 32.5 percent drop over last year, from $2.1 billion to $1.4 billion. In the airplane category, all types saw declines in the 4-percent range, with business jets down 4.3 percent at 292 units shipped, turboprops down 4.9 percent at 235 units and piston airplanes down 4.5 percent with 443 units shipped so far this year. The second quarter of 2016 saw more than $5.32 billion in airplane billings, down from about $5.89 billion for the same period last year.

GAMA said it’s pushing for regulatory reform to help boost the industry’s ability to roll out new products and technology.“As we saw at AirVenture last week, general aviation manufacturers are working hard to regain momentum by delivering innovative new products and technologies that enhance safety and provide substantial improvement in capability,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said. “Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress has not done its part to support aircraft manufacturers or maintenance, repair and overhaul companies through its collective failure to include reforms of the outdated and overly prescriptive certification processes in the recently passed FAA extension.” He cited remarks made this month by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., one of a few who voted against the extension as drafted because it didn’t include the proposed measures, “a sorely missed opportunity for Congress.”

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<="226751"> has added a new feature to its website and mobile app, Expert-Led Online Community Forums. The forums are available from the user’s menu and the event map on the website and are in the 5.1 release of the free app for iOS and Android devices. Topics include aircraft ownership, operation & maintenance, pilot training, safety & technique, headsets, cameras & pilot products, and travel, clubs, rentals & community.

Pilots and other users can view any topic and post their own advice and replies. Meanwhile, GA companies including Jeppesen, Piper Aircraft, Lightspeed, Bose, CamGuard, Aspen Avionics and FreeFlight Systems are on the forum to answer questions posted on the forum. Also, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is included in forums on recreational travel. The forum allows users to connect with individuals and groups via their profiles and Hangar chat links. SocialFlight's Jeff Simon told AVweb this week additional forum experts will show up soon, such as airshow pilots for an upcoming aerobatics section., which has added more interactive aspects to its find-places-to-fly app, has more than 50,000 registered users, according to Simon.

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A frequent reader question we receive is: Why does my engine seem to lack the power it once had? We can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong, but we can get you pointed in the right direction, and that begins with a systematic approach.

We can also tell you that one of the most common and hard to troubleshoot engine complaints is that of low power or low static rpm. Complaints on this subject were once so numerous on the Lycoming O‑235 series that Lycoming published an entire service instruction on the subject (S.I. 1388C).

Plane owners of all types will occasionally complain that their “engine isn’t making good power like it used to.” In most cases, the engine runs smoothly and there is no immediately obvious cause of the power deficit.

Static rpm isn’t always a good indication of power deficit, since so many factors (density altitude, outside air temp, mixture etc.) go into determining what the engine’s full‑power rpm is on the ground. A better way to know if you’ve truly got a power‑poor engine is to load the plane to gross and attempt to replicate book performance figures, especially takeoff distance with wind factored in and rate-of-climb.

(Maximum level‑flight speed is not a foolproof measure, since aircraft rigging can affect it.) If your rate of climb at full gross weight is only half what the book says it should be, you’ve probably got a power‑poor engine.

Three things that will be helpful to the maintenance technician who tries to troubleshoot the predicament are: (1) How long the problem has existed, and (2) Is it occasional, or continuous and (3) How accurate are the power instruments? Did the power deficit come on suddenly? If so, the cause might be a mechanical failure (broken valve spring) or other sudden event, such as internal blockage of the muffler or the intake.

If the power loss has come about slowly, entirely different causes may be to blame (e.g., timing shift, cam wear).

Likewise, it’s important for the troubleshooter to know if the power loss comes and goes, or is permanent. If it comes and goes—it could be a blocked muffler (loose flame tubes or baffles are bouncing around, covering up the exhaust outlet and then exposing it again) or a carburetor heat door that is fully shut one day and cracked open the next. A chronic, power deficit will probably be harder to troubleshoot.

In either case, if the power loss began immediately after annual inspection or other “hands-on” maintenance, begin checking into what was done at the maintenance check that could have caused the power deficit.

Sanity Checks

The very first thing to do when trying to check out a power‑poor engine is rule out obvious power‑killers (things that don’t require engine disassembly to get at or fix). These would be such items as:

The manifold pressure gauge and tachometer: Check for substantial errors in the “power poor” direction. The manifold pressure gauge should indicate field barometric pressure (corrected for elevation, of course) with the engine stopped. Tachs are best checked electronically, either with a hand-held digital model available through aviation catalogs.

A hand-held unit can be used either inside or outside the plane, and no tape is required. The commonly available $40 model has alleged accuracy to a maximum of 10 rpm, but we like the two other choices much better (either the TruTach II, about $190 or the long popular Proptach-3 at $270, You will find a readout to one rpm, greater accuracy, repeatability, stability and stabilization circuitry. You get what you pay for.

Next on the list is the induction air system: Check for shop rags, clogged air filter, alternate air door not closing, collapsed scat tubing, birds’ nests, animal remains or animal damage.

Carburetor heat: Check for proper rigging of door (door must close fully before knob hits panel in the cockpit).

Throttle and mixture controls: Check rigging. Make sure full control travel is occurring (stops are hit) at the throttle or injector. Primer: Closed, locked, and not leaking. The O-rings can wear and leak. Repair is quite easy.

Additional Sanity Items

Once you’ve exhausted the truly obvious things, it’s time to move on to less obvious items, such as:

The exhaust system: Check visually for blowouts, cracks, leaks. Rap on the mufflers with a rubber mallet and listen for loose baffles or debris. Turbocharged engines: gain access to the compressor and check for bent or damaged blades.

If blades have been rubbing (bent over at the outer periphery), something probably went through the exhaust turbine—begin FOD (foreign object damage) inspection. You can also use soapy water and pressurize first the induction and then the exhaust systems with a shop vac (using filtered air).

Ignition system: Check mag-to-engine timing with the “flower pot” type setup. It’s one of the most accurate methods. Check rpm drop (max 175 per mag, 50 rpm difference verify with against your specific POH).

Remove spark plugs, clean, and check under high pressure in a bomb‑test machine. Consult the aircraft records to determine when was the last time the magnetos were removed for anything more than cursory inspection. Weak rotors, weak magnets, faulty coils, have a way of escaping notice for hundreds of hours. Mags should be opened and inspected every 500 hours (or 400 hours for some mags per service bulletin). Weak mags are often the culprit.

Manifold pressure at idle: Check to see if MP is high (18 inches) at idle rpm. This can indicate a serious induction air leak or bad ring wear (poor compression in one or more cylinders).

Differential compression check: It generally takes compression substantially worse than 60/80 to affect horsepower. Also, if only a few cylinders are bad, the engine may shake.

With a Continental engine, much lower compression is OK as long as any leakage is not past the valves, which can be heard. Be sure to use a tester with the calibrated orifice and follow the CM bulletin exactly (CM bulletin 03-3).

Rich Man, Lean Man

An engine that is set up too rich or too lean will (if the fuel flow is off far enough in either direction) act power-poor. On an engine with constant‑speed prop, a quick check can be made for EGT rise at full power. With a carbureted engine, there should be some EGT rise (the actual amount depending on many factors) when the mixture is retarded.

This applies in cruise, too, of course. If you fail to see any EGT rise when leaning the engine, it means one or more cylinders were already on the lean side of peak EGT when you started leaning. That’s too lean.

Instructions for setting up Continental fuel‑injector systems (on the aircraft) can be found in Service Bulletin No. M97-3C. On Lycoming engines with Bendix or Simmonds fuel injectors, the servo bodies have to be flow‑checked on a special flow bench. I.e., you have to send the injector out.

Before sending anything out, of course, you’ll want to clean all injector nozzles (see Lycoming S.I. 1275) and be sure the correct series of nozzle is installed (Continental only). CM nozzles come in a bewildering variety of flow ranges, and it’s possible your engine has the wrong ones.

Bendix late‑style nozzles have a removable restrictor orifice which, if it’s left out, can cause problems. Be sure nozzles are correct and functioning properly.

The Valve Train

Sad to say, if you’ve already checked all of the foregoing items and come up empty‑handed, about all that’s left is the valve train. If you find anything wrong here, it’s probably going to be expensive to fix.

A check of dry tappet clearance is often worthwhile, especially if any cylinders were recently removed. (This is now a required part of Lycoming S.B. 388C, interestingly.) Power isn’t affected unless something is very seriously amiss in this department. For example, you may find a mushroomed or bent pushrod, or a rotator cap (Lycoming only) may have fallen off a valve.

Springs occasionally break (especially after an engine over-speed event) and valve guides sometimes pull loose from cylinder heads. Either of these can cause power loss, although there will generally be accompanying roughness.

The most likely source of any serious power deficit in a Lycoming engine, unfortunately, is a badly worn camshaft (one or more lobes scuffed flat). This is more likely in certain models (such as O‑320‑H, O‑360‑E, and TIO-541) than in others, but it does occur, sporadically, in just about all Lycoming models. (Continentals, too, although it is definitely rarer in a Continental.)

How do you determine whether you’ve got a badly worn cam, without taking the engine apart? Basically, you remove all rocker covers and put a dial indicator, one by one, on each rocker, so that you can swing the prop and note the rocker or valve travel for each valve.

The total throw should be very nearly identical for each valve. A flat lobe will be immediately obvious, because you’ll have a rocker that barely moves.

Tip: We’ve noticed that many Lycoming cams start scuffing on the intake lobes first, and generally it starts with the front of the cam. Therefore, when doing the dial‑indicator trick, start with cylinder No. 1 (which, on a Lycoming, will usually be the front-most cylinder on the right or starboard engine side).

If you notice a major “split” in travel values for the intake and exhaust lobes, you can stop right there. Otherwise, do cylinder No. 3 next; then do just the exhaust lifters on cylinders No. 2 and 4. (The same intake lobes work the intake valves for cylinders 1 and 3, and also one lobe works intake valve 2 and 4. Exhaust lobes are fully dedicated.)

You can also find a bad cam lobe, on engines that use barrel‑type lifters (most Continentals, Lycoming O‑320‑H, O‑360‑E, TIO‑541), by pulling the lifters out of their crankcase bosses. But the dial‑indicator trick is easier and quicker.

Another tip: If you own a high‑time (1,500 hours or more) Lycoming engine that has developed a power deficit gradually, over a period of time, and you have done checks of mag timing, carb heat, and tachometer accuracy (and the engine is running smoothly at all rpms), skip straight to the dial‑indicator check. (Particularly if the engine is flown less than 100 hours a year.) You want to rule out a bad cam right away, rather than spend needless hours (and dollars) looking for more esoteric, unlikely causes of power loss.

Here are some additional considerations from the Lycoming troubleshooting guide for power-poor engines, and they certainly can apply to CM engines as well:

Excessively dirty air filter. Sometimes even new filters may have an excessive air drop through them. If this condition is suspected, remove filter and run engine to full throttle without filter installed to observe whether the engine performs better. (This test should be performed in a dust-free area and on a hard surface.)

Carburetor heat door not rigged properly. Even though door is going from full open to full closed position when aircraft is shut down, when aircraft engine is operating, vibrations and airflow may cause door to open slightly. If this condition is suspected, tape or wire the door shut for test purposes. If this solves the problem, adjust and replace parts as necessary.

Incorrect magneto-to-engine timing. Use the “flower pot” timing tool rather than the “eyeballing” methods mechanics use on Lycomings. And if you have to change the external timing, chances are the internal E-gap needs work as well.

Fouled spark plugs. You need clean plugs. If the fouling is constant, lean in taxi, use TCP or check for hotter authorized plugs in the latest engine maker approved spark plug service bulletin.

Leaks in induction system and exhaust system (turbocharged particularly). Be sure any pressurized air tests are kept at low pressure and filtered air is used for any test. You don’t want to blow dirty air into an engine.

Improper fuel flow. Remove screens and flush out dirt. Disconnect gauge and install master checker to determine the accuracy of the aircraft instrument. Check for any restriction in the air inlet or manifold. Use of improper fuel can certainly cause both short and long-term issues. Lycoming has a service bulletin on this.

Controllers out of adjustment (turbocharged). Damaged turbocharger impeller, binding or tight turbocharger wheels (turbocharged).

Excessive dirt build-up in the compressor housing or on the compressor wheel (turbocharged). Kinked or restricted oil lines from engine to actuator, and actuator to controller.

Wastegate out of adjustment (turbocharged). Inlet orifice in actuator plugged (turbocharged). Wastegate stuck open (turbocharged). Piston seal in wastegate actuator leaking. Noted by excess oil coming out of drain (turbocharged).

Oil pressure too low to close wastegate (turbocharged). Injector and controller linkage not adjusted properly (541 series engine). Butterfly in wastegate is warped. Do we see a pattern here with turbos being potentially more troublesome? They certainly are and they need to be properly maintained. Turbos are much less forgiving of deferred maintenance.

Broken baffles in muffler (normally aspirated engines). Poor combustion—top the cylinders required if compression is low. Crankshaft to camshaft timing incorrect. This condition may be checked by first disconnecting starter, remove top spark plugs and rocker box cover on #2 cylinder.

Turn engine to T.D.C. on the compression stroke on #1 cylinder, observe that when piston in #1 cylinder goes over T.D.C. on compression the intake valve in #2 cylinder is just starting to open and the exhaust valve is just closing.

If this condition does not exist, the crankshaft-to-camshaft timing is off. NOTE: On engines with fixed-pitch propellers the engine probably will not turn static rpm. On engines with constant-speed propellers the engine will probably turn up static rpm. but manifold pressure will be a little low.


Most of the problems on a power deficient engine center around failing to do simple maintenance that allows the engine to both have proper spark intensity at the right times and for the spark plugs to be in good shape.

Make sure the engine can breathe properly and doesn’t have intake leaks. All odd sounds should be traced to their origin. And it’s always a good idea to start with the last maintenance area that was worked on if the problem starts after maintenance. Things get left loose or improperly reinstalled.

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Light Plane Maintenance.

Read More from Light Plane Maintenance, and learn how you can receive your FREE copy of 40 Top Maintenance Tips.


During a formation flying clinic near Redmond, OR (KRDM) one fine spring day.

Lead: "Alex, never tell anyone I said this, but you look very pretty right there."

Redmond Tower: "Good thing you said that for the whole world to know."

Peter King

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I was on AVweb news watch last week when a bulletin on a balloon crash in Texas came pixeling into my inbox. The headline said, “All 16 believed dead.” That can’t be right, I thought. And that’s been the reaction of nearly everyone in aviation whom I’ve talked to or corresponded with about this accident. How is that even possible?

It’s possible because there are giant commercial hot air balloons in the wild that can carry that many people and they operate with surprisingly little FAA oversight. Whether that’s good or bad is less material than the fact that the Lockhart crash will probably force the FAA to give the NTSB what it asked for in 2014: more regulation of the commercial balloon industry.

But on the strength of one horrific accident, is more regulation really needed? Is it reasonable to believe it would make a measureable dent in the accident record? My answer to both is no, but let’s run through the numbers.

Regular readers of this blog know of my insanely unhealthy obsession with mathematically derived accident rates. These are difficult enough to calculate accurately for GA aircraft because the denominator–-hours flown—is always so iffy. It seems to be non-existent for balloons. So a reasonable hack at the unknown is to calculate accidents per 1000 registered aircraft.

For GA fixed wing, AOPA estimates about 160,000 airplanes in the U.S. That works out to between 7 and 9 accidents per 1000 registered aircraft and a fatal accident rate in the range of 1.3 to 1.7, for a couple of typical years that I checked. It reasonably tracks the NTSB’s overall and fatal accident rates based on hours-flown data.

The FAA has 4016 balloons on the registry. Most of those are hot-air designs, but some are gas balloons. Again, using a couple of typical years to calculate accidents per registered aircraft, I found an overall rate between 2.2/1000 and 4.0/1000. The fatal rate for those two years, 2014 and 2015, was 0.5/1000 and 0/1000, respectively. Now, here a gut check. Those balloon accidents got into the database mainly because they involved serious injury. I’m not so nave as to think all the balloon accidents are reported. No aspersions cast on our fellow aeronauts, but balloon operations are well-prepared to haul the crash away, chased as they are with a trailer for that very purpose. But serious injuries—one of the bulletpoint definitions of an accident—will require first responders, as will fatalities. Those are likely to be swept up by the NTSB. So I’ll acknowledge that not all balloon accidents appear in the records and using registrations is a crude measure, but it’s better than nothing. Also, we don’t know how many of those balloons are active; same applies for aircraft.

In absolute numbers, there just aren’t many fatal balloon accidents. There were two in 2014 and none in 2015 and no U.S. fatal balloon accidents in 2013, either. Still, the NSTB would like the FAA to exercise more stringent oversight of commercial balloon operations and in a letter to the FAA in 2014, then NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman all but foresaw the Lockhart accident.

What the NTSB had in mind was the same sort of letters of authorization required of air tour operators or perhaps Part 135 charter companies. This level of regulation sets off required equipment inspection, recordkeeping, training, pilot drug testing and defined operating limitations.

The FAA demurred, saying this: “Since the amount of ballooning is so low, the FAA believes the risk posed to all pilots and participants is also low given that ballooners understand the risks and general hazards associated with this activity.” Further, said FAA’s Michael Huerta, “The FAA lacks compelling evidence to believe that medications not approved by the FAA have led to balloon accidents.”

In my view, Huerta is right on one count, wrong on another. He’s right that the measured risk is low, given the small number of total accidents and miniscule number of fatalities. But I challenge the claim that those 15 people who climbed into the Texas balloon had a good feel for the hazards and risk. If they understood that a balloon that heavy would climb like a slug on a hot and humid July morning in Texas, they might have paused. I would have. In fact, there’s no way I’d ever get into a balloon basket with more than four people.

Read the accident reports and you can reach your own conclusion about relative risk, but even smallish hot air balloons are a handful in anything but the lightest winds. High-wind landings are almost certain to capsize the basket and that either causes the occupants to bounce around like dice in a throw cup or it ejects them to be dragged or run over by the basket. And when they’re ejected, the now-lighter balloon can climb clear of the surface, presenting a second opportunity for a fast touchdown as the pilot frantically attempts to dump hot air through the crown vent. And balloon baskets, compared to airplane cabins, have zero crashworthiness. The common injury in hard landings is broken ankles and legs. Over a beer sometime, I’ll regale you with how much that hurts. On the plus side, as I’ve detailed above, the numerical risk appears relatively low.

And it’s not clear to me that further regulation of the commercial balloon industry would drive it any lower. Far more so than flying fixed-wing airplanes, safe ballooning requires such a canny sense of wind and weather that much is necessarily left to chance. Ask any balloon pilot with much experience and you’ll hear stories of surface winds that came up out of nowhere, unforecast. And of hard landings and wild, high-wind drags through plowed fields across the furrows. It’s just part of the sport and I don’t see how it can be regulated away. Perhaps for large commercial balloons, defined ops specs might place performance limitations with regard to surface temperature at time of launch or other factors that give the flight a slight edge. But given how much of ballooning depends on fine-point judgment of unpredictable air masses, I just don’t see it making much difference. I think Huerta’s right; the juice ain’t worth the squeezing.

I suppose prohibiting high-capacity balloons that carry more than, say, six people, is an option. I wouldn’t oppose that. On the other hand, my view is that if people are willing to assume the risk and there’s no unusual hazard to people on the ground, they should be allowed to do what they want. The government has an interest in making sure they understand the risks, which can be done through the informed consent model. For the purpose of liability reduction, balloon operators routinely have their clients sign waivers similar to those we sign in skydiving. These basically affirm that the participant understands the risk, acknowledges that he or she can be hurled to the ground, electrocuted or burned to death and accepts the risk of that. It’s caveat emptor and carpe diem stitched into a dozen, harsh, legalistic paragraphs. One drop zone I jumped at actually required you to stand in a front of a video camera and acknowledge you understood and accepted the lunatic thing you were about to do.

The FAA is often accused of tombstone mentality in deciding what to regulate. That’s usually said like it’s a bad thing. But if it didn’t do so, we would be more buried in regulations than we already are and as commercial ballooning may be about to be. But in the wake of horrific, high-profile accidents, only nerds like me argue to, you know, look at the actual numbers. Optics rule all and that’s likely to happen following this accident, too.

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