In all walks of life there are some real jerks. On the highways or around airports they cause a disproportionate amount of grief. Sign language between pilots is not as effective in the air as on the highways and usually doesn’t change the behavior anyway except to make it worse.
A friend operating off a small country airstrip remembered having a rogue pilot problem. This character was a very good stick with more than 20,000 hours and had flown all over the world. Arrogance was his specialty and he carved up the traffic pattern with some regularity. Cutting people off was normal behavior and he was known to takeoff before the previous aircraft had cleared the runway.
Polite interventions had no effect and a more direct approach caused him to become belligerent. Finally, a group of the pilots got together and went to the county, which owned the airport, to get him barred. Tar and feathers was considered but making it look like an accident was problematic. The pilot figured out there was strength in numbers and the odds were not good for bullying his way out, so he left to become somebody else’s problem.
While this may be an extreme case, it’s instructive. There are things that can be done with appropriate peer pressure. Let’s be clear that we’re not talking vigilante justice and occasional differences of opinion in the traffic pattern. I have always found that a little courtesy is far preferable to a potential paint swap and a bad outcome for both of us when somebody cuts into the pattern. Discuss it afterward, in calm quiet tones, which is easier said than done. There is a fine line between an enlightening and intelligent discussion and being a busybody. We’ve talked about the pattern police before and that can be almost as bad as the rogue.
To broaden the discussion, remember that GA pilots are always watched by the media and the local community. Excessive noise, aggressive or clueless behavior that may result in an accident puts your airport that much more in the spotlight. While it gives AOPA Airports division and the Foundation much more to do—and we’re always appreciative of job security—there are better ways to accomplish that.
Epilogue to last week’s fuel mismanagement discussion.
A comment to last week’s blog mentioned the possibility of water contamination for a variety of reasons and wondered why an AD had not been issued. Air Safety Institute reviewed five years from 2005 – 2009 finding 20 fuel-contamination accidents in high-wing Cessnas. Eight had carburetors or fuel screens clogged by substances other than water, and in three more water was found in the carburetor and gascolator but was no longer present in the tanks.
At least five of the accident aircraft had not been flown for a long time (weeks or months) before the accident, and at least three were being flown out of annual or with other known deficiencies.
Seven of the accidents were in 172s and four were in 150s. There were two each in 152s and 182s, and one apiece in models 177RG, 180, 185, 206, and 210. There was also one accident in a 152 that appeared to be the result of the tank outlet to the fuel lines being blocked by an unknown substance.
One of the 20 accidents was fatal, and two more caused serious injuries. The prevalence of these accidents seems to be decreasing. That could be due to any number of factors: actual change, decreasing flight hours, older aircraft moving out of the fleet. The possibilities are endless.