Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

kellyrw
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Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

Postby kellyrw » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:55 pm

I believe most people in the aviation community are aware of the various discussions surrounding the success/failure of the LSA/Sport Pilot issue (they're too expensive, cross-country capabilities, rental/instructor availability, etc.) During a recent scuffle with the FAA re: 3rd class medical requiring documentation of issues almost 5 years ago or 18 months before receiving my first medical certificate (which was eventually resolved with the involvement of three physicians, an attorney, two AOPA departments, physician licensing boards in two states, $25 in fax fees and 14 letters with documentation), I started to wonder whether I should just sell my 172 and buy an LSA and scrap the medical.

The more I thought about it, the more apparent it became that while the fun of flying (for me) is getting air under my feet, the joy of flying is being able to share it with others. Like the WWII vet and his wife I took on a sightseeing trip over their town, or the single mom and her 7 year old son who had their first plane flight of any kind, or just my wife, and mom and dad flying to Sikeston to enjoy the VIP treatment at Lambert's. With only one passenger, I can still have fun but I lose the joy. The wife went to enjoy her husband's reaction, the mom went to enjoy her son's first flight, my mom and dad go together because, well, they just have for over 50 years. I could tell Earl's wife to wait on the ramp, tell the mom she can watch us fly around from the FBO, or take my dad to lunch, tell my mom we'll go next week. There's just no joy in that, for me or for them. It seems that to trade my 4 seater for a 2 seater, regardless of cost, capabilities, or maintenance facilities, would just be selfish (not in a pejorative sense, just descriptive), and while I would still have fun, I would lose the joy I get from flying.

This leads to the topical question, have LSAs been less successful than hoped because pilots are not selfish and many of us want the capability to share our fun with others? I haven't seen this behavioral aspect of the LSA issue addressed and wondered if anyone else has had this reaction to the LSA/Sport Pilot restrictions.

BTW, is LSA plural or singular? Speaking of two LSA seems awkward, but referring to two LSAs represents "two Light Sport Aircrafts" and we all know "aircrafts" is not proper. Just wondering.

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Scofreyjet
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Re: Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

Postby Scofreyjet » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:11 am

kellyrw,

I'm not awake enough to comment on your larger question, but regarding the usage of LSA as singular or plural:

My take is that while saying "two LSA" seems technically correct, it's not wrong in English to treat the acronym as a word itself, and just follow the rules for pluralizing. After all, you might use the acronym in conversation with someone who doesn't know what it stands for, and to them it would seem strange if you didn't pluralize it when it followed a number.

By the way, I consulted two FAQs before replying! ;)
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PropFan
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Re: Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

Postby PropFan » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:05 pm

Kind of like the RBI vs. RBIs controversy that rumbles around in baseball circles.

To your main point, kellyrw: I think your "selfishness" theory may have some validity for those who know from the outset that carrying multiple passengers is part of their ultimate "mission." But, I think the relative lack of affordable Light Sport aircraft for rent or purchase (excluding vintage) and the indifference and occasional hostility of flight schools towards the LSA program have been more determinative of the program's slow start. Fortunately, there are signs that it is gaining significant momentum.

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Re: Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

Postby DJTorrente » Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:08 pm

PropFan wrote:Kind of like the RBI vs. RBIs controversy that rumbles around in baseball circles.


It can't be that difficult to accept that certain nouns (or acronyms) don't have a plural form. "Aircraft" is one of them.

But that's a topic for the grammar podcast...

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champguy
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Re: Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

Postby champguy » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:48 pm

The selfish issue is troubling.
Is it selfish of me to fly my Champ by myself? Or is it selfish of others to think I shouldn't fly at all because I can't afford a bigger more capable plane?
At "airport days" I keep the Champ off to the side and offer a ride to about one in twenty who want the experience I can offer. Most want to ride with the City Mayor in his Bonanza. Go figure. Next year I might just sneek into that line myself.
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kellyrw
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Re: Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

Postby kellyrw » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:47 am

I think Propfan hit on the defining issue, mission. We've all heard that when we are initially contemplating an aircraft purchase, defining our mission should be foremost. For me, a significant part of the mission was to be able to take more than one other person with me. In that context, the issue then becomes why does the FAA differentiate between those of us who want to take more than one passenger. One passenger - driver's license. More than one - FAA bureaucracy. As soon as I finish counting how many angels are dancing on the head of this pin, I'm going to tackle the question of why the FAA does anything.

To Champguy, I hope I didn't sound judgemental. I did not mean "selfish" to be a negative; couldn't come up with a better term. If I could have another plane, it would be a Champ, in one of which I took my first GA flight and my intro flight in flight training. The simplicity and historicity are really appealing, and on those days when I just want to clear the cobwebs, I envy my CFI who has the choice of flying his 152, 182 or Champ, and we are right back at defining the mission.

While thinking about the responses to my original post, I may have been approaching the issue the wrong way. If a goal of the LSA program was to increase the pilot population, maybe the FAA would have facilitated that goal to a greater extent by removing the 3rd class medical from GA instead of developing another class of pilot. Given that my mission is flying more than one passenger, and I know other pilots who share the sentiment, the LSA issue is moot, which begs the question of what is the essential difference between one passenger and two passengers and why the distinction between med cert or drivers license - a much broader question.

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champguy
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Re: Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

Postby champguy » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:20 am

kellyrw
Good luck with the third class medical "issue", and I mean that in the best possible way. The only possible challange is to demonstrate that the 3rd class holders have fewer "problems" in the air or a better health safety record than those who self certify or rely on a drivers license to weed out the alcholics.
The Sport Pilot thing grew in part out of an effort to deal with the so called fat ultralights. They had a problem but couldn't go back on part 103 because they had already done it and bureaucracys can't undo what they ave already done.
The other pillar of Sport Pilot was the 3rd Class medical exemption. They had to go to all the trouble of creating a whole new framework for pilots and aircraft to avoid undoing the grip of their own aero medical bureauacracy.
A more likely route forward would be to expand the endorsements for Sport Pilots to include night flying then simple larger planes like C-150s and C-172s.
Champguy (not holding his breath hoping the government runs out of money to regulate, before we run out of money to fly)
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rcigliano
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Re: Is "selfishness" part of the problem?

Postby rcigliano » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:48 am

I think it comes down to the mission. But I also believe that those who are starting out on getting their certificate do not know their mission. All they know is that they want to fly and bring up passengers. Maybe the family or friends. So they immediately think that they need to fly a 4-seater. I speak from experience. I have my private pilot's license but I now fly an LSA.

When I was training I started out in a Piper Cherokee Cruiser. A vintage late 1970's 2-seater. I then followed my flight instructor to another school and had the choice of a DiamondStar DA20 (2-seater) or a DA40 (4-seater). I chose the DA40, even though the DA20 was more similar to the Cruiser (2-seater, steam gauges) and almost the same price. Why did I choose the DA40? Well the G1000 was sexy and I convinced myself that my mission would be to go flying with my wife and kids. Boy was I wrong.

It took me some time, right around my checkride prep to realize that what I thought my mission would be was wrong. My wife probably would not fly with me, she is afraid to fly, my oldest son is also afraid to fly. My daughter and youngest son (see my post My Son's First Flight and My First Passenger) has flown with me but trying to get time with busy teenagers is difficult. So my mission really is to fly by myself and maybe with one other person. So an LSA is perfect for that. Also, it costs a LOT less to rent than a DA40.

If more people would know what their mission really would be then maybe more would start out as a Sport Pilot in an LSA. Realistically, the way I fly (short to med XC, day VFR) I really only need a Sport Pilot's license. If I knew this when I started (or soon there after, Sport Pilot didn't exist), I might have got a Sport Pilot's license instead of a PPL and save a LOT of money and time. This sort of speaks to what PropFan said when he mentioned the hostility of flight schools towards the LSA program. I don't believe flight schools do enough to match the program (SP,PP) towards the students needs. Maybe they feel that they can get more money from a private pilot student than a sport pilot student. But a big problem is the bias towards the Sport Pilot license and LSAs by CFIs. I have heard more than one say that LSAs are not real planes and are unsafe. Plus most CFI don't know what the Sport Pilot's license allows you do to. They confuse the plane with the license. They believe that the restrictions (no busy airspace, VFR, no night) is on the plane not the license. They are surprised when I tel them that as a private pilot flying an LSA, I can do whatever a private pilot is allowed to do.

I agree that recognition of the Sport Pilot license is getting better, but I believe there is still some work before it gets t where everyone hoped it would be.
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