Sport Pilot Safe Pilot

In the Letters to the Editor in the Dec. 10 issue, Brian Sheets of Beaverton, Ore., presents his grave concerns about the potential disaster that will befall all of us after people have availed themselves of the advantages of the Sport Pilot Rule (Sport Pilot: A disaster waiting to happen). On the other hand, I welcome the opportunity for people to become pilots without the burdensome training now required before they can know the joy of flying. As an Army Air Force pilot in World War II and a current CFI, I am confident the sport pilot will be as safe as any recreational or private pilot is today.

If Mr. Sheets would look back on his training for his pilot certificate, he would see that he was sent off on solo cross countries after about 20 hours under his belt. Also if he would evaluate his flying “for hamburgers” he would find that he is using only the skills that he was taught in the first 20 or so hours. So I don’t understand why he dreads having certified pilots with about 20 hours training flying in the skies with him.

Certainly each additional hour in the air increases one’s skill and proficiency in the art. So the 40 hours with an instructor may make one more skilled in handling the plane. But are those additional 20 hours necessary to make a safe pilot? If one believes that, why not require 60 or 70 or more hours of training before one is certificated?

Mr. Sheets makes many erroneous assumptions about the future Sport Pilots. His most arrogant assumption is to expect that the sport pilot will be “more focused on viewing the terrain or impressing their passengers than they are obeying FAA flight rules and being responsible aviators.” I don’t understand why Mr. Sheets thinks that sport pilots will be more inclined than private pilots to violate rules or be irresponsible.

Another wrong impression he has is that they will be “non-medically certified.” He forgets that he is “medically certified” only one day every two or three years depending on his age and medical class. If Mr. Sheets is 40 years or older with a third class medical, he certifies himself (as a sport pilot will do) the other 729 days until his next medical. Therefore Mr. Sheets is only 0.1% more medically certified than the sport pilot will be.

I hope that the Sport Pilot Rule will enable many new pilots to join me in the sky so they can say, too, that they have “touched the face of God.”

Ed Hoelker
via email

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