By now, you surely must have heard the wry admonition that,

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t they aren’t after you.

Researching, I found out that it’s a quote from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 which I haven’t read, shame on me. It resounds because it rings of a certain ironic truth, does it not?

Every so often, I am rocked by the realization of just how dangerous general aviation can be and none more so than when I read NTSB reports of how some or other highly-experienced pilot augered in their perfectly good light aircraft. For God’s sake! I’m still a student pilot, what chance do I have?!

Enter paranoia. It seems to be the one thing that separates those who still live from those who still do not. The dead, it seems, may not have been suspicious enough, of their own skills, of their plane, of ATC, of the weather.

Ron Rapp writes about a terrible accident in Florida where the pilot’s inability to say “unable” and lack of what Rapp calls a skosh of paranoia cost him—and his passengers—their very lives. Costly.


My wife says she doesn’t like small (ie. general aviation, GA) aircraft. “They aren’t safe,” she says. That got me thinking, is it really true that GA aircraft aren’t safe, or is it more the case that GA pilots are the problem.

The NTSB and the FAA both think the weakest part in most any aviation accident is the pilot and the statistics seem to support this stance. The wetware—as opposed to the hardware, the aircraft itself—it seems, is the weakest link. And in General Aviation, the wet in wetware is colored blood red. GA suffers more than its share of fatal accidents it’s true and chances are better than good that if you hear about an aviation accident it’ll be a GA aircraft. The oft-quoted meme about it being more dangerous driving to the airport is most assuredly not true about GA. Continue reading “Boneheads”

Tilton Against Windmills

Frederick Tilton (he should immediately change his name; he’s no “Fred”!Smile) contacted the AOPA and announced that the FAA, after all that bluster and wind, will not be implementing its new sleep apnea policy.

The policy would have required pilots with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 to be tested, and if needed, treated for obstructive sleep apnea. Instead, in the new year, the agency will open discussions with aviation industry stakeholders to find a way to balance pilots’ and the FAA’s concerns.


Would that this kind of thing occurred more often.

Sleeping The Surly Bonds

The Federal Air Surgeon, Dr. Frederick Tilton, has decided to press forward with instructions to AMEs to measure pilots’ Body Mass Index and on finding it is at or above 40 forward such to the FAA which will in turn require the pilot to undergo a sleep test within 60 days to prove he or she doesn’t have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

This despite widespread disapproval from the AOPA, EAA, and even an association of AMEs. Of course, this is all “for our own good” but it is indicative of the general disdain for public input that bureaucrats have. He says if Congress does end up passing a requirement that a rulemaking process must be observed, they would comply (like he had a choice, thank heaven) but until then, damn the torpedoes.

This despite no evidence for OSA being a factor in any accidents, especially in General Aviation.

This despite the massive increase in fees affected pilots would have to pay to board certified sleep specialists.

Bear in mind, it will not stop at a BMI of 40. Tilton aims to “target” more pilots—his term—until all pilots with OSA are treated. Do not be swayed into thinking there’s nothing wrong with this requirement per se. You’re right, in and of itself obesity is life reductive. And OSA is a health risk, and not just for pilots. If you’re obese as a pilot, lose weight! The problem is that we have a sword-wielding bunch of unelected bureaucrats inundating us with administrative rules without oversight. There are rules, but they don’t seem to apply to the bureaucrats themselves.

Essentially, what we’re seeing here is one more nail in the General Aviation coffin. The FAA simply doesn’t care about it and in this climate of class warfare, one in which GA is seen as a rich man’s playground, why should society at large bother?

There is a proposal that the Third Class Medical be eradicated. That private pilots be able to self-certify based on the ownership of a driver license. I’m sure that Bureaucrat Tilton bristles at this, and for that reason alone, I hope it passes.