Last week’s blog on the NTSB’s recommendations to improve experimental or amateur built (E-AB) aircraft safety brought out a lot of pithy comments as did the blog a week earlier on Santa Monica.
Regarding the NTSB recommendations on E-AB, while it’s tough to argue against safety, it appears that if the rules and guidance that are already published are followed, there probably isn’t a need to promulgate more. There is a lot of guidance, and by this time next year there will be still more from EAA, FAA, and the Air Safety Institute relative to flight testing, transition training, and loss of control. At some point, however, we pilots have to take responsibility for our actions and for the consequences. Let me be clear that we welcome the insight that NTSB provides—it’s up to pilots to use it intelligently!
The corrective action that physics and gravity mete out is consistent and swift. The only unfair aspect is that occasionally passengers fall victim to misjudgment—just as they do in cars, motorcycles, and at baseball games. (If you read the ticket, the owners let the buyer beware that they may get beaned by a foul or fly ball.) As PICs, we should be ever mindful of that! FAR 91.319 (d) is clear that, “Each person operating an aircraft that has an experimental certificate shall…Advise each person carried of the experimental nature of the aircraft.” That’s not something to be glossed over, and the aeronautically-unqualified passenger should understand what it means.
The fairness surrounding land use and politicians keeping commitments is much less self-correcting. The U.S. has traditionally prided itself on freedom and the ability to accomplish things that may entail risk, personal growth, learning, and sacrifice. But for every black there is a white, a yin for a yang, or a down for an up. In too many cases these days, facts become irrelevant and emotion—which is a bad way to govern—holds sway. (That’s not unique to the aviation discourse these days and is a much bigger conversation.)
As pilots and defenders of the ability to move freely, the challenge of even well-intentioned regulatory creep or land grabs should not be accepted lightly, as previously noted. It’s now time to get involved regularly in communicating the value of GA and the freedom it brings. Acknowledge that without risk there can be no reward, and that some rewards are most definitely not worth the risk (that yin-yang thing).
As a new pilot many years ago, I understood the safety responsibility intuitively, but did not understand the need for AOPA and the AOPA Foundation in defending the freedom to fly until some years later. That mental sunrise has been gradually continuing with the recognition that the human impediments to flight are every bit as real as drag and weight. It is up to each of us to provide thrust and lift. I hope you will join with us in keeping GA aloft!