Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Engine Failure - SeaBee - Sunburn

Nostalgia - Engine Failure in a Republic SeaBee

Chronicles are wonderful sources of planes and pilots in unusual places! The scene is Gaylord Municipal Airport in Michigan somewhere in the past. Participants were my Dad and his Son-In-Law, Jack. Nice day for a spin in the SeaBee, practice a few touch and go's in Otsego Lake and a quick return back to the airport and drive back to Bradford Lake, a few miles south of Otsego Lake to join the ladies for a planned lunch.

The takeoff started out ok but over the end of the runway, about 300 feet into that wonderful CAVU weather, the Franklin engine decided to take a rest! 

Pops didn't have time to drop the wheels (SeaBees have a cumbersome wheel retraction system) but a field full of cattle, just to the NW of the airport, provided the emergency strip "Pops" headed for, gear up! I have to admit my Dad really knew his aircraft. 

The "Flying Stone," built just after WWII by Republic Aviation, slid in among the scattering cattle and pulled a rivet or two. Shook "Pops" and Jack up a bit but otherwise no damage was done to either the plane or crew - well, maybe a bruised ego or two.

Now came the fun! Belive it or not the field was flat enough and big enough to fly the SeaBee out of rather than dis-assemble and tow back to the airport, a short distance away.

That required a days work with Bob Nichols, the airport manager, helping Dad and Jack hoist the plane up with a series of jacks so the wheels could be jacked down again.

All three men were without shirts on a nice sunny day in northern Michigan with cows licking their backs for the salt.

The Chronicle doesn't end with the safe takeoff and return to the airport later that afternoon after a through going over by Bob to determine what went wrong. Bob is a certified A&E.

It ends with two very sunburned men, two irate wives waiting for that nice lunch and the embarrasing day they struggled to explain.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How Many Pilots "Bust" Physicals and Why

Pilot Physicals - Why Do Pilots "Bust" Physicals

Approximately one percent of the individuals applying are denied certification. Over fifty six percent of pilots denied have less than forty hours of flying time. It could be assumed that less than one-half percent of the licensed pilots applying for renewal are denied. Of the total denials ninety one percent of the people are involved in non-aeronautical occupations. The aeronautical occupation most often denied is the air traffic controller. Next come airline pilots, commercial pilots, executive pilots and flight instructors, in that order.

The biggest cause for denial is a problem with the cardiovascular system. 

Next comes a miscellaneous category that includes diabetes, alcohol, drug problems and general systemic problems. 

This is followed by nervous and mental problems. Eye problems are pretty far down the line. Vision accounts for about ten percent of the Class I failures and about eight percent of the Class II and Class III failures.

What happens if the aviation medical examiner detects what he feels, form the examination, is a disqualifying flaw? The physician doesn't issue the medical certificate and sends his report to the Regional Flight Surgeon or to the aeromedical Certification Branch of the FAA in Oklahoma City. 

Before issuing or denying a certificate the above offices may want additional information about why the person was denied.

If the decision to issue is a "no" there are avenues of appeal. The most frequent appeal has to do with cardsiovascular problems. The regulations state that a heart attack is disqualifying but it is the FAA's policy to reconsider an airman for certification two years after the attack, if he is in good shape. They make no exceptions on diabetes unless the airman is able to control it with diet alone - no insulin or oral drugs.

What seems to be a conclusion from the study is the fact of  little voluntary attrition because of a known medical condition and a knowledge of the requirements. In other words we only go to see physician when we need our certificates perodically renewed.