Moving to the Jump Seat

08-652_TaxiingReports of my retirement have been somewhat exaggerated, with apologies to Mark Twain. As you may have read, I’m leaving the left seat of the AOPA Foundation for a jump seat position as a “Senior Safety Advisor” to AOPA and the Air Safety Institute. That means the Safety Pilot Column in AOPA Pilot still continues as does the blog, which is a great place for anyone to voice opinions with, or without, the thought process.

Still get to do speeches and help some of our sister organizations, such as the FAA, NTSB, National Weather Service et al, be reasonable—at least as we define it. As implausible as that might seem, there are some really good people there who understand and want GA to thrive. They need help from the outside to fight internal battles with those who really don’t care about GA or are totally hidebound in bureaucracy.

Best part is the opportunity to do some more flying. Less management and more opportunity to interact with fellow pilots sure seem like a good way to spend some of the limited time we all have. The obligatory retrospective column will appear in AOPA Pilot in November, and after that it’s on to tackle safety and proficiency.

After 44 years of flying other people’s aircraft—some spectacular and others not so much—I am now the proud owner of a well-loved 1987 A36 Bonanza. Why the Bo and that model?

Aircraft ownership is personal, and you can start rousing good arguments anywhere on this passionately held topic. Trying to keep emotion out of it I’ll attempt to explain, recognizing that there will be equally unreasonable and strongly held opinions to the contrary.

  • It’s reasonably fast but not as much as some
  • It carries a good load but not as much as some
  • Parts and service are readily available at somewhat reasonable prices in some cases and absurdly astronomic in others
  • This particular one was air conditioned, and since we will be living in the Southeast…much as perspiration gives the impression of honesty it can make you less socially acceptable than you might naturally be
  • I’ve had a lot of experience with this model, which makes insurance a non-issue, AND I will be taking a transition course later this fall despite that. More on that in a later blog.
  • And the number one reason? It has double doors for loading copious quantities of luggage for my favorite flying companion

Feel free to argue your points openly, but the last one is at your peril from aforementioned companion. You understand!


  1. Isn’t it wonderful that there hasn’t been designed a “perfect” aircraft for everyone! Perhaps choosing an aircraft in which one will feel comfortable and confident is the best choice of all. Perhaps choosing an aircraft that one’s favorite flying companion will enjoy sharing is also a great choice, considering that many of our best friend’s won’t fly with us at all!

  2. Ahhh,…Bonanza time…quality time…

  3. Thanks for all your hard work at the Foundation. Also, thanks for that great list of “reasons'” I’m going to borrow and use them liberally with my wife as I work on the why the “Bo” is the best choice for us 🙂

  4. Scott…

    Thanks for kind thoughts and just let me remind you that ” your mileage may vary” relative to the effectiveness of any rationalizations …..err reasons that are provided herein.

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