It takes 4 to 6 months and $5,000 worth of test for me to get a second class medical certificate that is only good for 6 months after it is finally issued. I can walk into any AME’s office and pass a medical exam for standard issue any time, but the clerks in OKC will not let me out of their special issue spider web. I teach Deaf people to fly. Deafness isn’t really a medical issue but the FAA doesn’t know that. In finding a solution for Deaf to fly safely without being harassed by the FAA, I have found a solution for the many of us old enough to remember new Citabias for $9,995.
We are entering the eighth year of the LSA rules which were intended to make flying for fun easier. For those of us who are most experienced, it was not made easier – we can’t fly with our Driver’s License if we have been denied or have an application pending and the dirty, sneaky part is that it is impossible to withdraw an application that is pending. LSA airplanes are just as dangerous for Deaf as standard certificate airplanes. (That has nothing to do with hearing – it is due to hearing pilots dependent upon traffic advisories for traffic avoidance in a system designed for ”see and avoid” which has been working very well up to now for almost 100 years.) The first solution that I discovered was seaplanes – seaplane pilots still look for traffic and NORDO is normal for seaplane operations. Then I discovered gliders for the same reasons – glider pilots look for traffic and NORDO is normal. Both of those solutions are pretty restricted in availability of equipment, performance and places to operate – seaplanes more so than gliders. LSA rules are new but glider rules are not. What is new in the world of gliders is motorgliders (the FAA calls them “self launched”) with side by side seating, >110 knot cruise speed, 850+ nm range, S-LSA certification so that you can transition to them with a log book endorsement and the same or lower pricing than new airplanes. We have some catching up to do but we are getting there with regard to availability of equipment. Until hearing people start looking for traffic, the safe places to operate are still limited but it is the same as for airplanes. The big difference and the solution for those of us who are the most experienced (don’t tell me I’m old unless you want to see how physically fit I really am and can afford to lose a few teeth), is in medical certification.
Every pilot is responsible for making sure that he/she can complete a flight safely. That includes evaluating and making a go-nogo decision about equipment, weather and his/her ability to complete the flight safely. The FAA has been making medical decisions for airplane pilots but not for glider pilots. Glider pilots know that it is just as important a decision as the weather. A common error in thinking is, “Well, I don’t feel good, there might be something wrong, I better get this flight done before my next medical”. Another thought is “what the FAA doesn’t know won’t hurt ME”. Glider pilots don’t play that game and the game is Russian roulette.
The “You Can Fly” Project visits Schools For the Deaf and tells kids who are Deaf you can fly. It is also the first EAA Forum presentation in American Sign Language – also voiced and captioned in English for the ASL challenged. The message to you is: “You Can Fly” without an FAA medical certificate – motorglider (self launched glider). “You Can Fly” safely – transition to LSA Gliders and learn (or re-learn) excellent basics in traffic avoidance, weather and self analysis, ADM (Aeronautical Decision Making) and flying skills. “You Can Fly” motorgliders – we will help you let go of your “Baby” (the Wichita Tin you are [not] flying now) by marketing it for you, we have 15 meter wings with removable wingtips so that it will fit in your present T-hangar. “You Can Fly” economically – priced less than comparable LSA airplanes, 3.9 gph cruise on auto gas, zero gph soaring with the prop feathered, club establishment for cost sharing.