Monday, September 14, 2009

Bracket


No, not Brackett-LaVerne Field. Bracket, as in "if I stay between the highway and coast I can't miss the airport."

Aviation is in a confused state right now, at least in my part of the world. The pipeline of new pilots has slowed. It was slowing before the financial crisis, so we can't sleaze out of blaming ourselves for not making flying attractive.

But right here at my home airport I see both extremes. On the right, we have the first Eclipse VLJ that I have seen in person. It is an attractive airplane, and only a congressman, or even Kanye West, could find a way to say that it is not an amazing performer. Of course it cost a lot of money. and the company got ahead of itself, and Dayjet got ahead of itself, but those points are all irrelevant. The relevant point is that the Eclipse is an exciting new design. Shouldn't that attract people to aviation?



And on the left we see the other bracket, a magnificent Piper PA-12 Supercruiser. I used to fly one, and it is a fun airplane.

Amazing performance or fun? Which one will attract people to aviation? Both!

The airport manager recently sponsored a booth at the state fair. I was amazed by the number of people who stopped by and said "I would love to fly, but they won't let me." "They" were the Medical Certification Branch of the FAA, or course. So I would ask about their disqualifying condition (unfortunately, I have had the opportunity to become an expert on the Special Issuance process, having about four disqualifying conditions myself). None were all that bad, given modern medicine.

"Do you have a driver's license?"

"Sure."

"Then you can fly!"

Their eyes lit up. This does not mean that they could fly an Eclipse, or even the PA-12 (I think it's too heavy), but there are dozens of airplanes, new and old, fun and beautiful, which they can fly as Sport Pilots.

The FBO where I teach chose to ignore this segment. A CFI friend up the road has a LSA Ercoupe that he's flying an amazing amount.

So I'm looking for an LSA airplane. Maybe a T-Craft, or a Cub of some kind? It won't be an Eclipse, but it sure ill be fun!

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1 Comments:

At September 15, 2009 at 11:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with sport pilot is that there are those of us who were lineman in football (I was a center at 6'4" and 280) who can't fit in the light sport planes (or take any gas with us even if we could fit).

The FAA medical restrictions are FAR too strict. There are police officers, firefighters, emergency physicians who perform their jobs flawlessly but who cannot get medicals for depression, ADD, etc.

As an active CFI, I think private pilot (3rd class) medical requirements should be relaxed dramatically to allow more people to enjoy flight!

 

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