NTSB Denies Trent Palmer Certificate Suspension Appeal


The NTSB has denied an appeal filed by pilot and YouTuber Trent Palmer related to a suspension of his private pilot certificate. As previously reported by AVweb, the suspension arose from a flight on Nov. 24, 2019, when Palmer conducted a low inspection pass in preparation for a possible landing at a private airstrip used for remote controlled (RC) airplanes on a friend’s property. A neighbor filed a complaint with the FAA, stating that the aircraft flew dangerously close to himself, his family and several structures on his property, and provided the agency with security camera footage.

The FAA held that Palmer violated 14 CFR 91.13 prohibiting careless and reckless operation of an aircraft and 14 CFR 91.119(a) and (c), which cover minimum safe altitudes, including allowing for an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property if a power unit fails and not operating an aircraft closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure except when necessary for takeoff or landing. Palmer maintained that the inspection pass was a necessary part of a safe landing procedure as outlined in the FAA’s off airport ops guide and that he had the ability to conduct an emergency landing during the entire flight. The matter went to an NTSB administrative law judge (ALJ), who issued an oral decision in April 2022 in favor of the FAA but reduced the requested suspension from 120 to 60 days. Both sides appealed the decision.

Palmer’s appeal was denied in its entirety on March 30, 2023. Following the initial decision, he expressed concerns that the ruling would set a precedent that conducting an inspection pass would require a pilot to land at the intended spot for it to not be a violation if there was a chance that they had flown within 500 feet of a vehicle, vessel, person, or structure. In the appeal ruling, the NTSB disagreed with that interpretation, stating that the “Respondent [Palmer] posits that the law judge misinterpreted § 91.119 in finding that a low inspection pass is not necessary for an off-airport landing, but the law judge did not issue such a finding. Rather, the law judge determined that respondent did not prove his affirmative defense that he met the prefatory clause—that his low inspection pass was necessary for landing during the November 24th flight.”

In response to the appeal from the FAA, the NTSB found that the “judge erred in reducing respondent’s sanction from a 120-day suspension to a 60-day suspension” and reinstated the 120-day suspension. The NTSB noted that the appeal was granted given that the FAA “provided a reasonable explanation for determining that respondent’s conduct fell within the high severity category, citing respondent’s testimony regarding his flight experience, the level of risk posed, and his prior warnings from the FAA regarding his conduct.” At the time of the incident, Palmer reportedly had about 900 hours as pilot in command of the aircraft he flew that day and had previously received a warning notification from the FAA for carrying passengers and “water-skiing” by dragging the airplane’s tires on the water on Lake Tahoe.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. From the sworn testimony, sounds like this Hollywood drone dude fuhcked with the wrong grenade-launching combat veteran Seabee by buzzing his family…and propane tank.
    One “awshyt” on that scale with his Kitfox wiped out all 232 attaboys from Trent’s “off airport aviation is fun, join me!” videos.

    • I say this as a Veteran myself:

      That’s the thing with grenade-launching combat veteran Seabees. They can not imagine the very freedom they fought for being enjoyed by the citizens they fought for.

      People like to espouse the virtues of Freedom and Liberty, so long as it is they who get to decide to whom and to what measure those Freedoms and Liberties apply.

  2. You want the FAA to do its job, it’s doing its job. Keeping a lid on airborne clowning around is a good thing for our overall safety record.

    • So you are saying that Trent Palmer lied? That’s what the FAA is saying; they are requiring an affirmative defense, rather than proving intent on their part.
      The rest of the justice system doesn’t work this way.

  3. Absolutely ludicrous decision and example of a “Karen” sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong and messing with others where it had no impact, as well as another example of government overreach.

    Next step in this line of thinking is suspending a pilot for doing a go around on an un-stable approach.

    • Apparently, it reasonably had impact to “Karen’s” safety. People are allowed to report hazardous aircraft operations to the FAA. It’s no different than some neighborhood teen driving down your 25 mph residential street at 50 mph.

      • “ It’s no different than some neighborhood teen driving down your 25 mph residential street at 50 mph.”

        It’s exactly like some neighborhood teen driving down your 25 mph residential street at 50 mph…when the posted speed limit is 55 mph.

        The rules say “55mph”, the Karens believe it should be 25. The local sheriff doesn’t want to deal with the Karens so, he punishes the one not breaking the rules.

    • Overreach? By applying the regulation for some fool endangering others!? Do you think that actually damage has to happen to commit a violation of airspace regulations? If so I hope your pilots and drivers license are both burned in front of your face.

      The regulations are clear and this guy has already been caught clowning with an airplane In violation of regulations.

      120 days should be recalled and 240 days should be enforced.

  4. This is a cautionary tale for online influencers: Think very carefully about what you do and say publicly, because it becomes an easily referenced forever history. Although he made a compelling argument about his behavior in this incident, the judge was privy to Mr. Palmer’s history of reckless behavior.

    When you’re dealing with an agency whose primary tool to deal with misdeeds is a hammer, it doesn’t do to turn yourself into a prominent, very public nail.

  5. Excellent. This clown should not be allowed to fly period. He’s dangerous and probably always will be.

  6. Low passes and down the runway, high speed passes at fly ins and weekend breakfast events, T-34, Yak, etc, while fun to do and fun to watch, all come under this bunch of rules. It is generally ignored if not done dangerously. But……

  7. Don’t forget there were other You Tube movie stars trying to reach stardom status at the same time. One of these stars liked to take off but preferred to bail-out before landing. More recently, while Trent’s appeal was under review, a couple of parachute experts (funded by a foreign entity) tried to trade airplanes in flight…..after the FAA told them not to do it.

    And then there is the part about…..you know…..Trent’s previous encounters (plural) with the FAA….

  8. This guy has a history and it’s only a matter of time until he crashes and burns. The FAA took the appropriate action but this action will not change this person’s behavior. Death will however and it will be self inflicted. The FAA should consider re-examining his medical to determine mental health fitness. It’s a basis for medical issuance. We will read about this guy again. I only hope he doesn’t take innocent lives with him. He was lucky this time but luck doesn’t replace good judgment.

    • You do realize that there are competent pilots, to whom this type of maneuvering is trivial? Heck, a low pass (“dragging”) over an airstrip was part of my training.

      • “ Heck, a low pass (“dragging”) over an airstrip was part of my training.”

        Careful. You just admitted on a public forum of violating FAA regulations.

  9. Note that Mr. Palmer is a licensed professional drone pilot. My understanding is that a licensed drone pilot whose regular pilot license is suspended also has his drone flying privileges suspended (and vice-versa) – correct? Thus his suspension is doubly painful – his livelihood is adversely affected for 120 days as well – if such information is correct. Does anyone have better information on this? It is one of the reasons that I have not attempted to get a drone license. I value my pilot license far more than any benefit from flying drones.

  10. PS – Lot of Trent Palmer hate here. I thought his videos were pretty good: we need more pilots and back country flying seems to be the thing that’s popular. I might have missed it but I didn’t see anything particularly inappropriate in his videos – and what he’s doing looks a lot less dangerous than what happens at a STOL contest.
    Without regards to the specifics of this low approach, it sounds like the law judge didn’t understand the point about forcing people to land, because the “response” above is actually nonresponsive, and now we have a dangerous legal precedent: if you abort a landing, your low flight was not necessary for landing and you are in violation. We can wait until they go after the next guy, but we’re going to be calling on our senators again.

    • I agree to your comment, Thomas.

      This all came down to that word in 91.119…. “necessary”. Trent was able to demonstrate that what he did was normal, and recommended. However, he was unable to demonstrate what he was doing was “necessary”. In other words, there were other methods he could have used to evaluate the landing spot that did not involve violating 91.119.

      I also agree with your forced-landing comment. Actually landing would have eliminated the 91.119 violation, but the FAA seemed determined to violate him on the 91.13 Careless and Reckless reg. The FAA was looking for an opportunity to send a wake-up call to the You-tuber community.

      • So, the FAA’s guidance on this topic should probably be updated to clarify that the low approach it recommends should only be conducted if there are no other options, and clarify what “necessary” means.

  11. Having more grass-strip landings in my logbook than hard surface ones, I question the value of the oxymoronic “high-speed inspection pass”. If there is anything of significance to be gained by such an inspection, it is certainly more visible at a more leisurely speed. I’m sorry, but if he was doing a full-throttle, low-altitude pass, it was a buzzjob, and he was appropriately sanctioned.

    Also, it’s hard to imagine that someone described as a “pilot and YouTuber” doesn’t possess more than a little need for the world to “look at me!” I don’t know about the “you” part, but he seems to possess all the judgement of a “tuber”.

    • From what I remember, it was not especially fast nor especially low: it was above the trees, not dragging the surface,

      • Correction, it may have been fairly fast. Flying Magazine had the video:


        At timestamp 4.0 there is a clear frame of the airplane. 4 frames later there is another clear image, by which time the plane has traveled (as I measure it) 3.5 times its own length. On this video there are 13 frames per second, so the plane is doing roughly 12 times its own length per second (with a fairly wide margin of error). Based on the length of the airplane being 18.5′, that’s 210-ish fps or somewhere around 125 kt, again with a fairly wide margin of error. Whether it’s all that low is debatable – there’s not a lot to measure it by – but for a Kitfox, even allowing for the margin of error, I wouldn’t call it slow, as such.

        • Further update: the video seen in Flying Magazine is a video of a screen that is playing the video, not the video itself. So, we can’t be sure that it hasn’t been edited. Apparently, because it’s not original, it was not allowed in as evidence at all. The process relied on the testimony of the witnesses who made the complaint.

  12. “Cowboys & Karens”

    The transcript is a long read, but so many additional points are brought out in it that are NOT included in the story.

    The pilot had permission from the landowner to use the RC airstrip.
    The pilot was experienced in off-airport operations.
    The airstrip was of sufficient length for the intended operations by a Kitfox aircraft.
    The FAA ADVISES inspection and evaluation of an airstrip for a safe landing.
    The pilot had flown over the airstrip a number of times at higher altitude prior to the low altitude inspection pass.
    The fact that the pilot CHOSE NOT TO LAND would seem to prove the efficacy of making an inspection at low altitude. It would be hard to make a definitive decision from altitudes above 500 feet.

    The complaintants were “fearful” of the airport operations–despite the fact that RC aircraft had been operating next door for YEARS.
    They stated that their year-old baby and toddlers were “scared” (yet these kids are hardly credible witnesses capable of making judgements or assessing danger.) The complaintants may assert that they too were “scared”–yet they have no basis for their belief. They had been living next door to an RC airfield for years without incident. If we were to use this as a precedent, we would have to condemn all housing underlying approaches to airports–THAT’S not reasonable.

    On the OTHER HAND
    It is increasingly common for pilots to justify low altitude operations as “inspection” of the purported landing area. That’s a “loophole”–but it is a LEGAL LOOPHOLE–I wouldn’t want that option taken away.
    I have no time for “Media Influencers”–people posting “Hey, look at ME!” videos. They serve no purpose–yet, if they are within the law, they are LEGAL. In this case, it is the varied interpretation of the extensive FARs that is in question.
    “Second-guessing” a pilot’s reason for an action is not appropriate.

    I’ve been flying for 60 years and over 30,000 hours. I’ve been an FBO and airport manager for 54 years. I fly jets, turboprops, helicopters, gliders, seaplanes,and balloons–and am a “retired skydiver.” I’ve done a lot of “special operations” requiring low level flying–pipeline patrol, banner towing, search and rescue, aerial photography, wildlife surveys, etc. Yes, it sometimes triggers complaints by “concerned citizens”–yet NOT ONE OF THEM HAVE BEEN UPHELD. Some of the “complaints” have been humorous–“why is that glider circling over my place–SPYING ON ME!” “We have an airplane that flies low over our house twice a month” (pipeline patrol). My favorite “My wife and I were out walking early one morning, and this BALLOON was coming toward us at low level–as it passed over us, my wife was looking up at it, and FELL OVER BACKWARDS while looking at it!”

    MISSING IN THE NARRATIVE is that the pilot was operating within the law in making an inspection of a landing surface that A. Was suitable in length for a Kitfox (I owned one). B. Had been used for years for model aircraft operations. C. That the pilot had received permission to land. D. That didn’t result in injury or property damage to the public.

    If the FAA REALLY is concerned about operations like these, they should rescind the advocacy of inspecting a landing site before use–whether that is off-airport or a designated runway. That would, however, be detrimental to safety. Leave the law the way it is!

    • Count me in full agreement with Jim H.
      I’m now retired – 50 year carrier aerospace / defense training industry including part 91, 135, 121.

  13. It is not well-publicized, but this is Palmer’s 3rd run-in with the FAA. The first was tossing a drone from his flying aircraft & landing at this same RC field NextDoor to this current offense. The second was “wheel skiing” on Lake Tahoe while carrying a passenger. Now this. He got off on the first two.

    What is sad to me is the fact that Palmer has access to hundreds of Sq miles of BLM & US Forestry lands to play on, but that is not enough. While he’s got challenging grassy slopes everywhere, gravel beds along rivers, dusty desert plains, & gas stations along highways you can taxi up to for Mogas, we east coast flyers have to content ourselves with dense populations, mud flat river bottoms, & highly regulated seashores dense with beach blankets.

    I’m probably most envious of Trent being North & West of the Cactus line, as any off-airport landing around here will most likely result in flat tires. I enjoy his videos, but clearly, while other people have rights as well, Palmer doesn’t recognize them.

  14. In my limited experience, the administrative law judge almost always “ sides” with the FAA, as they are considered the subject matter experts. Flying over a proposed landing site is routinely done in backcountry areas such as in the wilderness areas of Alaska and Idaho.

  15. The administrative law judge issued an oral opinion in 2019. When did the 120 day, then 60 day, now 120 day suspension kick in? Has he been flying all this time during appeals and then waiting for the final word?

  16. Every pilot at every airport in the US knows of pilots who should not be flying. These are pilots who cut corners do not reach out to make sure they are heard in the radio who decide that since “ recommended operations” does not mean required ignore safe operation recommendations. These folks tend to exit the field usually in spectacular ways. With any luck there are no screaming people in the plane with them or hurt as they turn themselves into a smoking hole.

    • Yes–this “social influencer” makes self-promotional videos–something I would never watch–but we are talking “best practices” here. The FAA itself recommends becoming familiar with all aspects of selecting a takeoff or landing field–would you want to adopt the practice of some countries that require government permission to take off and land–and only on an “approved” airport?

      ME EITHER!

    • To me, that penalty will be the most adequate to that guy. I wish I would be the judge in that case.

  17. Here is what gets me. Last year I reported a low flying helicopter that was not landing and not taking off but they were flying at 500 feet or less above our houses here in Nitro, WV. We made a complaint to the Administration. They contacted me within 2 hours and told me that it was ok since it was a helicopter that was performing powerline inspections. This is a highly congested community, with high power lines everywhere, two schools within 1 mile or less and over 150,000 residents in a 1 to 2 mile area. This guy was so low that we were getting rotor wash into our yards. I told them that as a pilot myself there was no way this guy would not have killed 20-30 people had he suffered an engine failure. The faa informed me that it was legal and acceptable and the company even called me and stated that maybe I should mind my own business.

    • Using that logic, then there should be no more urban heliports–“flying over a congested area.” Never mind that these are professionally flown aircraft, WITH a low-altitude waiver–and that have an exemplary record of safety.

      Yet some people wrap themselves in the cloak of “safety”–worrying about what COULD happen. Perhaps they should consider living in a cave (but they would then have to worry “what if the mountain caved in?”

    • The helicopter pilot was probably not a YouTuber. Anyone that brings attention to GA is no friend of the FAA. With the GA pilot population in a downward trend, anything and anyone doing something that attempts to buck that trend is fouling the objective.

      In addition, many outside of the pilot community can not believe you can fire up your bug smasher, take off and go just about anywhere you like without saying a word to ATC. They believe that aircraft are to be “controlled” at all times. So, you have this YouTuber, harming no one, coming and going as he pleases. The non-pilot public simply can’t fathom the freedom.

      IF and I do stress *IF*, this pilot does have an engine out or dents and airplane, makes an emergency landing on the road, what ever the scenario..AND the public catches wind of his YouTube videos…AND has no previous violations from the FAA, the non-pilot public, believing that aircraft are to be “controlled” would be up in arms. The FAA simply has placed arrows in its quiver *if* something does goes “wrong”. “They tried to warn him”.

      So then, this “violation” is not about who/what was harmed or what rule was broken. It was a preemptive move for any future harm that may unfortunately occur.

    • Helicopters also have a specific excemption to 91.119. If they didn’t, most of the missions they’re used for wouldn’t be possible. Autorotations also allow helicopters to land in much smaller confines than a fixed-wing aircraft. The helicopter occupants might need a hospital visit depending on their altitude and speed at the time of the engine failure, but they’re unlikely to harm anyone else on the ground (or certainly not “20-30 people”).

  18. Wow, lots of keyboard warriors here. If you actually watch the footage, you will see that Trent Palmer wasn’t clowning around and was no where near the sniveling “offendee”. This is a severe overreach by the FAA and will set a precedence to make flying even more unsafe.

  19. Looks to be an entitled, spoiled brat with an airplane. He should be glad there is still hope to continue flying once the penalty is over. I do expect to see his name in the news again, though.

    • Yep.

      He’s one of those 1% that owns his own airplane. He should be made to grovel with the rest of us.

  20. I have mixed feeling about this. As a pilot that enjoys off airport operations, I’m concerned about the precedent that this suspension could set. I also do inspection passes before landing on a new piece of terrain that I am not familiar with. I will sometimes drag my tires along the surface before committing to a full landing. The FAA’s own off-airport landing guide recommends following that procedure to ensure the ground is sufficiently clear of obstacles and is firm enough for the intended landing. That said, all of my off airport landings have been in remote areas miles away from other structures or people. Although the clearance requirements for stand-off from buildings are voided when landing, landings close to buildings are typically only required when landing at an airpark where people build homes along a runway. Although this incident involved an approach to a radio controlled model airplane airstrip, that is a FAR cry from an airstrip designed and approved for landing full sized aircraft. I fully understand why locals would be concerned about full sized planes landing in their neighborhood. Yes, the lot sizes are large and yes, the landing probably could have been done safely, but I believe choice of this particular “off airport” approach was foolish and was a request for trouble. The letter of the law still seems to be in Trent’s favor, but the intent of the law does not. If people don’t live at a residential airpark, it is reasonable to expect them to be troubled by an airplane attempting a landing at a neighbor’s house. If nothing else, this approach showed poor judgement and Trent should be ready for the consequences of that. I’m afraid this incident will result in more detailed regulations that would further constrain off-airport operations even in areas where no buildings or homes are present. I just hope Trent hasn’t screwed things up for the rest of us that are more prudent in our selection locations for off-airport operations.

  21. All the TP haters on here have obviously not seen many of his videos. 95% of the time he is very safety conscious and a great ambassador for recreational aviation. He’s inspired many, many young people to obtain their pilots license. The other 5% of the time, well…he’s admitted that the skiing activity was a dumb idea. Did a whole video about it. I’m not casting stones cause I did a lot worse at his age. Thank God GoPros hadn’t been invented yet.

    Net effect of all the social media/YouTubers has been a huge positive for GA as far as I’m concerned. We’d probably be circling the drain without them. Most of the popular, responsible channels demonstrate good safety practices.

    • “I’m not casting stones cause I did a lot worse at his age.”

      I’d wager you also didn’t go around telling everyone within earshot of your worse ideas, though.

    • “ Net effect of all the social media/YouTubers has been a huge positive for GA”

      “ He’s inspired many, many young people to obtain their pilots license.”

      Thats part of the problem. GA is a thorn in the side of the FAA.

      The GA pilot population is trending down, anything that adds to the numbers is in the wrong direction.

  22. On the one hand, I find the violation of 91.119 to be rather dubious and setting a dangerous precedent that could preclude all kinds of aborted landings or even practice missed approaches.

    But on the other hand, this guy has even admitted to doing some showboat stunts before, and YouTubing all of it doesn’t exactly help his case. I believe he even made a video specifically talking about his violation, so doubly-stupid on his part.

    Though a pure 91.13 violation would be more appropriate and not set the dangerous precedent that they seem to be intent on setting (even despite their supposed “compliance philosophy”).

    • As I understand it, “compliance philosophy” is the FAA’s version of “admit guilt and throw yourself on the mercy of the court”. Palmer did far more than most people do to show a compliance intent, complete with a couple of cautionary videos. But he argued with the FAA, rather than admit guilt.

      • “The floggings will continue until morale improves” continues to be the FAA modus Operandi.

        The FAA seems to Advocate a careful consideration of required field length and condition for the operation—including a careful inspection—as advocated by the FAA itself. The FAA THEN takes the complaint by an “observer” with NO EXPERIENCE IN AVIATION! (What next—take testimony from a pedestrian about street crossings—though the complainant has never driven a car?)🤪

        Though I don’t like utube self glorification—this “decision” is perverted—the decision of the judge shows that he has no practical knowledge of FARs or practical flight.

        Every pilot is threatened by these “second guessers”—all someone needs to say is “I (or my infant children”) felt threatened—therefore my uninformed concerns allow me to file charges with the very same government agency that advocated the actions.”

        And they wonder why lawyers get so little respect!

  23. It’s great to have a high “having fun guy” profile with the public if you are a YouTuber, not so great to have the same with the FAA if you are a pilot.

  24. If the FAA starts giving tickets for inspection passes, I suspect they will quickly all come aborted landing attempts.

    Likely, the whole issue is that the inspection pass complaint wasn’t defended by the FAA due to either the skiing incident or that Youtube was involved. Just my opinion based on life experience and lack of other particulars.

  25. Didn’t Trent say in a YouTube video that his friends (owners of the property) weren’t even home at the time he made his “inspection pass”? That seems to indicate to me he never had any intention of landing in the first place, which would completely negate 91.119.

  26. Negative—the homeowner had actually INVITED him to land there. There was no accident—no damage—the pilot was following the FAA Advisory Circular—the pilot did the right thing by REJECTING the landing—yet the NON QUALIFIED neighbor called in the cops because he felt “threatened”—even though he didn’t know the law.🤪

    This is an example of a non-qualified complainant viewing an incorrectly perceive “wrong”—and a judge unfamiliar with aviation, Advisory Circulars, and best operating practices—making “law from the bench!” WHAT A WORLD WE LIVE IN!”

    I’m glad I live in a rural area—where we don’t have to worry about “Karen’s” with no concept of aircraft operations and the law!

    As for the “Utube Influencer”—I’ll ignore whatever he is selling as well!

  27. There are many strong opinions on this matter being expressed here.

    As is often the case, the stronger the opinion, the less informed it is.

    I am Mr. Palmer attorney.

    Whether you condone off airport operations or not; whether you support Mr. Palmer or not, do read the Briefs filed in the matter before you pass judgment on this case one way or the other.

    The Briefs can be found here.


    There is far more to this story than the this article or the NTSB would have you believe.

    And the fight is not over.

    • Thank you for the information, Robert. After reading through all of it, I whole heartedly agree that this entire case was nothing more than a waste of time and money. A few sentences in your appeal adequately summarize the entire case:

      “That being said, the matter at hand remains simple. Is an inspection pass at an off-airport
      landing site “necessary” for landing? It is. There is no meaningful dispute on that point.
      To the extent it is, the altitude/distance and other limitations set forth in 14 C.F.R. § 91.119
      cease to apply to those types of operations.”

      What else is there to dispute in this case? He checked out the landing site, decided it unwise, and left. If he had come back around to land, the judge himself effectively said there would be no case against him. Hmm…

    • Robert, thank you for sharing this information with the community. I’m a little over halfway through and it’s very enlightening.

      Folks, the legal documents linked above are worth the read before forming an opinion on the case. As far as I can see, the FAA/NTSB doesn’t have a leg to stand on. But, since we are in a time of timid people who worship safety, and since we are now living under the tyranny of the administrative state, they get to do more or less whatever they want.

  28. Thank you Robert S. for clearing much of the rumor mill. Opinion and speculation is strong in the Aviation community. 👍

    Aviation between the two World Wars, from the late 1910s to the early 1940s was called “The Golden Age of Aviation”. Pilots performed for the camera, sport and records becoming household names. Whatever it took to get media attention and we called them “Barnstormers”. 100 years later they have different names but same agenda. Call them whatever you want, I like “Flying Cowboys”. 🤠

    World War II needed those young adventurous Aviators that spawned from the Golden Age of Aviation. Those brave soldiers became “The Greatest Generation”. Many of you posting here have already had your adventures now let this generation have theirs. No form of transportation has ever had a “good image” don’t even go there. 🫢

  29. God bless you and your work on Trent’s behalf, Robert.

    I am hopeful but my optimism is limited.

    It’s a court case between individualism and the collective government mentality, and the government hires the judges.

  30. Besides runway condition/suitability, there’s also the issue that an uncontrolled field is just that.

    “Deer/wildlife in the vicinity”, trespassing Quads/bikes on the runway and the guy mowing the grass strip…and none are listening for a radio call. Given that a couple of the above are making as much noise as an aircraft, what’s the FAA approved warning that keeps them from darting out in front of a landing aircraft when there is no one on the ground to chase them off?

    I’d assume the FAA would prefer those parties not be hurt/killed by landing aircraft, but once in the flare there isn’t much opportunity left to prevent the conflict.

    • …and no, not suggesting playing chicken with anyone on the runway, but even when they’re off the runway in the surroundings, there’s no guarantee they won’t show up there if they don’t hear or see an aircraft…after all, in their experience the runway’s clear most of the time.

  31. For being a website of pilots, there’s a lot of hand-wringing here. I thought we were supposed to be a hardy bunch. If society 100 years ago had been as timid, fearful, and risk-averse as today, I doubt we’d have ever escaped the surly bonds of Earth in the first place.

    What’s really concerning about the government’s angle here is that they are trying to corral flight activities into only what is “necessary”. They seem to be placing undue weight on the safety (nay, feelings) of folks on the ground, without regard to the rights and interests of pilots. It’s as if recreational flight activities are of zero importance, and therefore unjustifiable if they present even the SLIGHTEST POSSIBLE risk to someone on the ground. The judge and the NTSB are making a big deal over the “necessary for landing” language in the regs, even extending that to suggest that no landing was necessary in the first place since there were other places to go, there was no emergency, etc. If we follow this line of thinking to its logical conclusion, then the entire flight is “unnecessary”, therefore any risk whatsoever to people or property on the ground becomes indefensible. It’s the safety-above-all-else paradigm that the government keeps using to strip away liberties.

    I saw this stuff years ago when the FAA started cracking down on the drone/model aircraft community. I’ve been telling my fellow pilots be careful what you wish for, you could be next….but most folks in the manned aviation world just ranted about “those darn radio control toys” and applauded the FAA’s heavy-handed approach. Well, this is what you get.

    Interesting side-note that occurred to me while reading through all this: the language in the regs about “careless and reckless” specifically qualifies itself with reference to endangering someone else’s life or property. See 91.13:

    “No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”

    It seems to me that the FAA would be unable to use this reg against someone doing something like water-skiing with no one else around, or landing solo off-airport in the middle of nowhere. Not really relevant to Palmer (I understand he had a passenger during his water-ski incident, correct?) but it’s something I’d never thought about before.

  32. Seems some of the comments above regarding Trent’s consequences and punishment are over reactive and harsh considering his offense, and i wonder if many of these commenters have any experience as pilots flying airplanes. The regulations not withstanding, I didn’t see Trent’s flyby as particularly dangerous to life or property. He certainly may have been inside the 500 foot reg. My problem is with Trent even considering his friends RC field for a place to land. In my opinion that seems to be lax judgement on his part. A flyover at 1500′ AGL should have given him sufficient information on the proximity of other residences to just disregard his friends invitation to try out his strip.

  33. According to the F.A.A. brief, “Instead, Respondent made the conscious choice to fly his aircraft within 500 feet of residential housing, a mother and her child, and a 500-gallon propane tank,
    traveling approximately 800 feet per second, at an altitude of less than 100 AGL.”

    That’s one fast Kitfox. I’d be pissed, too. 😉

    • “800 feet per second” is pushing well over 450kts. Vne for a kitfox is a quarter of that speed so Palmer would had to have sheered the wings and lawn darted it to get something as crazy as that! I’m sure this must have been rebutted in the trial as it is a fanciful speed to claim, but it ought to show the accuser’s veracity overall may not be up to snuff.