Sheriff with pilot
1 min read
Sheriff with pilot

Time for an intervention?

We’ve all heard the phrase “that pilot is an accident waiting to happen.” I can remember an incident that made me think exactly that. I watched as the pilot loaded himself and three other large adults into a rough-looking 172, clearly putting the airplane over maximum gross weight. To make matters worse, this was on a 95 degree day and at an airport with a 2500 ft. long runway. It really was an accident waiting to happen, but nobody intervened. Fortunately, the airplane staggered into the air and eventually disappeared over the horizon.

This brings up the question at hand: do we, as pilots, have a responsibility to do something about these people or should we leave them alone? If we do intervene, what should be done? Confront the pilot? Report them to the FAA? Warn their passengers? And how bad does it have to get before you step in?

John Zimmerman
55 replies
  1. Joseph
    Joseph says:

    I usually take the stance, the pilot should know better, however the passengers are probably ignorant about the risks. The problem comes in with the “Politics” that occur at most small airports. In the end if its recurring it may be best to report to the FAA.

    I’m relatively new to the aviation world so I’ve not experienced anything like you describe, but I think I would have to mention to the passengers the risk.

    Of course with the 180hp upgrade, the gross weight increase STC and less than full fuel you can legally fly with 4 people in a 172, the question would be the relatively short runway and probably high density altitude numbers. So sometimes you may not have all the facts from across the airport, its a fine line to walk.

    In the above situation I think I would walk over to the pilot and say something like, I was thinking about buying one of these but I didn’t think the useful load would let me fly with 4 people. Most pilots like to “teach” very few like to be corrected.

  2. Todd
    Todd says:

    They may not take the hint with that comment. I might be inclined to relate a story about density altitude and the dangers and make myself the pilot having made the mistake. In the end this is a very hard thing to do as nobody likes to be confronted when they are doing something wrong. I agree that the non-pilots aren’t aware of the potential hazard. It’s a tough call sometimes but the phrase “none of your business” comes to mind.

  3. Art Pauly
    Art Pauly says:

    I have two stories. I’ve been a pilot for 41 years. I’ve flown a few different kinds of aircraft both private and military. My instructor in the late 60’s I think had Pilot Certificate #2 but he was a stick and rudder man and taught me about through pre-flights. I had a Cessna 150 for a while and the owner of the FBO where I kept the aircraft offered to take me up in his Bonanza. We went out, he untied the plane and jumped in. I told him quite clearly I would not fly with him.
    Another time (sorry to be so long) at the same airport a Hollywood actor (at least he said he was) flew into our small foothill airport because Sacramento was fogged in. He was in a Paris Jet with three other adults. When the fog lifted he topped off the tanks and was read to load everyone in. In the flight lounge we calculated the BFL for that aircraft with that load to be 4,000 ft. The runway was 4,000 ft. uphill with trees at the end. Well our intrepid airman said he would make it. Me and two others urged him to take two then come back for the third. Sacramento was only 20 min. away. Well he took off and just cleared the trees as the wheels came up. I still say he had leaves in the wheel wells when he landed in Sacramento. I guess God protects idiots also.
    I’m not the busy-body type but pilots are not perfect. We all miss things and I hope someone would tell me if I miss something. Not to embarrass someone but to be another set of eyes. Well, that’s my $.02.

  4. Arnel
    Arnel says:

    I would definitely intervene if presented the opportunity. Back in my student pilot days at KLGB, I saw a mom and her two kids jump inside a Bonanza without so much as a token pre-flight. Bad move. The inlet covers are still in its slots when she fired up the engine and start taxiing for rwy 25R. I had to run as fast as i can(not being in shape, it was a hard thing for me to do.) to get ahead of the airplane and motioning with my hand too shutdown the engine. The mom was perplexed, i could tell by her expression but complied immediately. I went in front of the plane and took off the covers and showed it to her. Her face was red with embarrassment. I found out later that she was actually a holder of a commercial certificate!!! I guess it doesn’t really matter what your hours are. If you BS the pre-flight, you’re going down. Let this be a lesson to all flyers out there. I dont’t give a flying f**k what certificate you have in your wallet. You do your pre-flight and you do it properly. There are no compromises.

    • Alan
      Alan says:

      Very well stated Arnel. (I currently have my instrument rating). I was at Atlantic Aero at KGSO with one of my instructors from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and he was showing me his plane. At the same time I notice this older gentleman (maybe mid 50s) come out of the FBO go straight to his rough looking piper arrow and jump in. Less than 10 seconds later I hear him start the engine and another 10 seconds later he taxied to taxiway Delta where I lost sight of him. His nose wheel was literally shaking the entire time he taxied like an old wheel barrow tire. It amazes me how pilots can just jump into their plane without so much as a quick walk around.

  5. Hans
    Hans says:

    I remember on my second x-country flight, to KOFP, as a student pilot I entered the traffic pattern on the 45 perhaps a tinge beyond mid-field as at the same time another aircraft was already on downwind. I followed behind him and made my calls, but forgot to say I had him in sight. My plan was to slow down a bit and then extend my downwind for proper spacing. As it turns out he couldn’t see me and was worried I was on top or below him so he did a right 360 as a safety precaution. After we were both on the ground he approached me and asked if I was flying the Katana. I said I was and joyfully told him I was a student pilot on a x-c. He didn’t say anything else, but in retrospect I wish he had attempted to have a friendly chat with me about the reason for his decision to exit the downwind. I think if he had, and he had kept it friendly, I would have learned from him. Much later I reflected on the event and figured out myself the lessons of that day. Today I try to talk to other pilots about situations like that, and I think we should teach ourselves to do that and accept the possible criticism or apologies of another pilot.

    • Steve Pizzo
      Steve Pizzo says:

      I had a similar experience on my first X-country. One stop was a towered airport. I called in and the tower instructed me to “enter left base, 34.” My instructor had never had me enter a pattern any other way than on a 45 to the active downwind. So I just “assumed” the controller was reminding me that the pattern that day was left 34 and I proceeded on my 45. Just as I was about to enter the downwind my radio crackled with the voice of an angry controller asking what the hell I thought I was doing. I looked to my left and there was a 172 200 yards away already in the downwind. I banked hard right, did a 360 and was told to proceed land and “contact the tower.”

      Needless to say I got the chewing out of my life (which, as a former Marine is saying a lot.) It was lesson I never forgot and, though I was a bit defensive at the time, I am not thankful. I am the most careful pilot in any pattern anywhere, all the time.

      • Richard Tamir
        Richard Tamir says:

        In the 1960s at Lawrence Municipal (KLWM), uncontrolled in those days, I entered the downwind on a standard 45 entry. I’m on the downwind in a 172, when I notice at the top of my windscreen, just coming into view, a Cherokee descending 30-50 feet (no exaggeration) in front of me to the same altitude.

        No one to complain to. I slowed down further, flew behind him, and swallowed my anger. My only regret today is that I didn’t walk over and punch him in the face. Or maybe that’s not PC, or maybe not my style.

        Clearly, he did a straight descending entry. Never tried to figure out why a 45 degree entry is required. (Plane ahead becomes visible during the turn to downwind from the entry angle.)

        What would other readers have done?

  6. Mark
    Mark says:

    Reading these articles reminds me of an incident I read about that happened a little over ten years ago, where a pilot with nothing but contempt for regulations or safety.

    This pilot would not pre-flight his aircraft and would do the bare minimum required to maintain his aircraft. At his last annual, the A&P asked him if he regularly drains his fuel. He told him he did, so the A&P told him his fuel strainer drains were rusted shut and needed to be replaced, and there was water in his tanks.

    On his last flight, the one where he killed himself and his youngest son, and injured his wife and two other sons, he took off in IFR conditions in an airplane that didn’t have a working Nav/Comm or IFR gps; he was communicating with a portable radio and navigating with a battery operated automotive GPS.

    The crash occurred when the pilot attempted an instrument approach to an airport that had a ceiling about 200 feet below minimums for the published approaches. The only approach plates in the aircraft were expired.

    This pilot should have had his certificates revoked, he belonged in jail in my opinion.

    • Armand
      Armand says:


      I recently wrote about that very accident as an example of a loose cannon. As difficult as it may be, we have an obligation to act. If tactful counseling does not work, it is time to call the local FSDO and remove him from the system. Our obligation is the same whether or not it is aviation. A drunk getting into a car would merit the same response.

      • Claudia
        Claudia says:

        On that note, I know that when I see someone about to drive away with a flat tire. I mention it. Or a light left on. Why can’t the same courtesy be extended to pilots. I would rather be told something is wrong on the ground where I can do something about than in the air where a small issue can turn into an emergency. I am very safety conscious because I take my two young sons flying with me. I would hope others feel the same way about their passengers and themselves.

  7. Hunter Heath
    Hunter Heath says:

    In my aviation and non-aviation experience, the pilots/drivers/motorcyclists/boaters who don’t maintain or inspect their machines, use no checklists, overload them, depart in conditions beyond either the machines or their capability, perform risky maneuvers, etc. are, to put it mildly, highly resistant to input from bystanders. “MYOB” would be at the low end of the response scale, and a punch in the mouth or a pistol drawn at the other. The story makes for a very hard call; while my heart says to intervene, my head says it’s hard to do in practice.

  8. Mike
    Mike says:

    Sometimes, you have no opportunity to comment before one of these incidents unfolds. One hot, muggy day at Moose Creek, Idaho, we saw a man and nearly-grown teenager carry a large ice chest to a Cessna 152, load it in, fire up, and taxi out. Moose Creek is a backcountry grass strip, but has two runways; the longest is 200′ x 4,000′ with clear approach/departure at both ends that can handle DC-3s. The other is 2,500′ and is a one-way strip that has the Selway River canyon at one end and an uphill section at the other that ends at the ranger station in large pine trees. The 150 taxied to the river (departure) end of the short strip and proceeded to try to take off downwind toward the ranger station and trees, with no flaps set. We were dumbfounded; the video our flying partner took shows other people (presumably pilots) running from their tied-down planes to follow the 150 as it staggered into ground effect after reaching the uphill part of the short strip near the ranger station and executed a nose-high turn around the trees in front of the station. After we got up to that point, we saw that there was a pasture beside the ranger station that the 150 apparently took advantage of to climb high enough to clear the trees at its end. We never saw it again, or any smoke, so they apparently made it. That video is still a “here’s how NOT to fly the backcountry” that we use with new pilots.

      • Mike
        Mike says:

        Sadly, no; it was back in about 1990 and the video is VHS. Maybe I can find a way to transfer it to digital format if it is still viable.

        • Danny
          Danny says:

          Digitizers are readily available that can be hooked to your computer through the USB port to capture and upload that video. I, also, would love to see that one. Try BestBuy,, etc.

        • sean
          sean says:

          We’ve got the gear to transfer VHS to digital format: if you have a tape you’re willing to share, we’d be glad to help. I’m berry at housebsd dot org

  9. Tim
    Tim says:

    You’re hard-pressed to fit 4 large adults in a C172 even with a 180-hp upgrade. I should know, I fly a Piper with 180-hp and I’ve done the math multiple times, playing out a million scenarios as to how many of my Army buddies who are about the same height and build as me, which is about 170-215lbs each. I added up the fuel, took the fuel out and deducted out much fuel I would need to allow 4 men to fly, safely and for how far with the amount of fuel it would take to make it happen. You won’t have very much distance. Lower performance single-engines (180 hp and lower) aren’t meant to carry as many adults as the seats available. If you want to carry 4 adults, need to think of renting or purchasing a high-performance or multiengine.

    I can tell you that a new pilot decided a few years ago to fly from MA to ME, flew a Piper 180hp. He had himself, his adult brother and their golf clubs. He reached an airport in ME and picked up another two buddies and their clubs. Their destination was an airport in Cape Cod to obviously play golf for the day. As you may have figured out already, he never made it off the ground. He stalled at the end of the runway and killed himself and the other three. They interviewed the pilots at the field and a few noticed that they didn’t have a chance before they even finished loading the plane and watched it waver and finally stall and crash. Let me repeat, they watched him improperly load his aircraft, their gut-instinct was to do something but they decided to mind their own business. They may have saved some lives if they mentioned to the passengers that their pilot friend was an idiot. You can choose a better way of handling it than that but I habit of calling an idiot as I see one.

    Weight and Balance isn’t an option, at least it shouldn’t. Anytime you do something different, add more fuel than usual, add some passengers, added cargo, needs to be checked.

    • Joseph
      Joseph says:

      True in a 172 with the 180hp and weight increase STC you have about 960lbs (depends on the plane) of useful so with large adults you would use up all the useful with just the people. But if you had 4 180lb people, you should be able to load up 30 gallons of fuel. So what about 2.5 hr endurance with VFR reserve with no cargo. Sorry these numbers are off the top of my head, and obviously I would do a weight and balance and fuel calculations if I intended to fly, heck I do them when flying by myself. This would probably be a case of being legal, although probably not smart to go flying that close to gross on a hot day.

      • Miguel Palacios
        Miguel Palacios says:

        Aside about capabilities of the 180 hp 172: The one I fly has a full-fuel payload of 800 lbs. I’ve taken 4 adults and luggage in a couple of trips and found the aft CG limit is the constraint (I was about 100 lbs under max weight). It seems more people pay attention to weight than to balance, but in this plane balance is what I worry most.

  10. Peter Temesvary
    Peter Temesvary says:

    John, this article is linked intricately to Dick’s earlier posting on “loose cannons”. Sad as it is, there’s just not much we can do about the loose cannons. I had one as my tie down neighbor for a few years – a fresh Private Pilot with a T-tail Arrow who thought he was invincible and thought his Piper was to be handled like a Ducati 996. I always shuddered when he was around, not only did he have a blatant disregard for what I considered normal procedures, but he was always full of stories that I didn’t want to hear. The real tragedy is not the loose cannon pilots though, it’s their unsuspecting passengers.
    In my professional life I coach safety interventions. It’s difficult enough at the workplace to get over the mental hurdle of telling someone “you’re about to do something really foolish”. But if you can get the majority of an organization thinking the same way, you can eventually build a culture where it’s accepted to step up and intervene (ideally, where it’s expected). However, at the airport … wow, I think it’s a tall order to march up to a stranger and say “you really shouldn’t do that”. Honestly, I think most of us would just shake our heads and think “what a darned fool”.

  11. David Heberling
    David Heberling says:

    This is a tall order you are asking of pilots. It is hard enough to tell our own adult children when we think they are making a mistake (ie. child rearing, driving, etc.). To try to do that with a complete stranger is nigh impossible. It is not like these type of pilots is ignorant of the applicable FARs, or the value of a good preflight, proper maintenance, or even doing a weight and balance. They do have an aversion to authority and a high opinion of their piloting abilities. To think that you are going to walk up and try to talk them out of doing what they have set their mind to is pure folly. At best, it will be an ugly confrontation.

    Let me relate an event from my professional airline pilot job. It is rare for me to be scared by anyone that I fly with. There was one exception when I was still an F/O. I won’t go into the details of what this Captain did. The end result was that I went to the Professional Standards Committee and reported our flight together. It was the only time I have ever done something like that. The Captain was so embarrassed by being called in to a hearing before the committee, he worked back through the F/Os he had flown with and figured out it was I who turned him in. He confronted me in the main departure hall of KCMH (Columbus, Ohio). It was a very unpleasant affair that I remember to this day.

    The real tragedy are the unwitting passengers riding with this “accident waiting to happen”.

    • Tim Williams
      Tim Williams says:

      I’m glad that you did what you did. You can either confront the person or you can let someone else whose job is to confront people like that for you.

      I’ve spent the last 10 years in the US Army – Active Duty. The one thing I’ve learned is never be scared to call someone out on something that’s not safe. Believe me, there are plenty of unsafe things you can get mixed up in while serving in the Armor Branch, tanks, large caliber machine guns, rockets, missiles, etc. I’ve called my peers and superiors out on a number of occasions, not because I’m better than anyone and that I don’t make mistakes but because I see a trail derailment coming from a mile away and I feel that since I’m in a position to say something, that I do it.

      I’ll never care what that person thinks of me, nor would I care what that Captain said to me in the airport…I would just nod my head and look him in the eyes and say, “I may have made a mistake, then again at the time, I, as an airline FO whose job is redundancy and assistance made a judgement call, and I would have made it again in a heart beat…why, safety first! I don’t believe you’re a safe pilot.” I wouldn’t care less what he thought of me, or his buddies.

      Godfather, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

  12. Earl
    Earl says:

    I have been a pilot for 60 years and have had 4 dear friends loose their life by making mistakes falling into the category of taking chances and getting by with those chances until that last chance was the end.
    Airplanes are very forgiving. Bad judgment is not.

    I would not hesitate for a second to walk up to the pilot and call him/her to the side for a heart to heart talk and would decide what to do if the pilot continued towards possible disaster.

  13. Richard
    Richard says:

    With 58 years under my belt flying everything from a J-3 to a DC-8 and presently flying a Cessna 180, I don’t mince words. I say it loud enough that the passengers hear me: “You’re going to bust your a** one of these times doing what you’re doing”. I figure if they still go flying with that pilot, its off of my back.

  14. Joe
    Joe says:

    Been flying only 13 years, and being a CFI,CFII, I would like to think that would have been compelled to intervene by at least say something to the pilot. Can’t really detain him, but maybe pointing what he was doing would be enough to make him think twice. In some ways its almost worse that he got away with it (almost). Anyway, here is one of my favorite aviation aphorisms (don’t know the author, and I am doing this by memory, so I may get a word two wrong), but it is along the lines of many of other the comments above:

    “Aviation is not inherently dangerous, but more so than the sea, it is unforgiving of any incapacity, carelessness, or neglect.”

  15. Maurice Regan
    Maurice Regan says:

    Does not CRM has PACE: probing, alerting, confronting, emergency action that might apply here? One other strategy I learned somewhere. In planning, imagine the worst case senario (WCS), or senarios, then work backwards taking action to avoid the disaster. For example, picking up passengers on a high, hot, humid day and crashing on takeoff. You would work backwards and include weather briefings, takeoff roll and weight and balance calculations to eliminate this WCS.

  16. Garth Elliot
    Garth Elliot says:

    One way to handle these situations would be to come up with a check off form -and keep a red pen handy. When you see something you think is potentially dangerous or unwise give the completed form to the pilot. (A check off page needs only seconds to complete).
    You do not have to embarrass them by chewing them out in front of passengers…and the folded over form would have a title:


    If the pilot just puts it in a pocket it is time then (only then?) to politely speak up…gently at first with “I must firmly suggest that you read that document now.”….if the pilot does not comply you might then (only then) want to take further action.

    My 2 cents more for what it is worth.

  17. Frank
    Frank says:

    I would’ve intervened; only because I did so back when I was a student. I had been training in a C152 out of KLRU back in 1987. Well, it happened that the day my instructor wanted to take me up for my intro to Critical Attitudes, the usual C152 was in the shop. So, we took up an A152 that was available.
    At the end of 1.2 hours of instruction, I was so turned around, I needed to just sit down for awhile at the FBO. I mentioned to my instructor that the A152 felt sluggish and didn’t have the same response as our usual C152. While resting, I decided to look at the logs for the A152. I noticed the normal TBO was 2400 hours for this aircraft. Doing some simple math, I realized it had been nearly 2500 hours since it’s last overhaul. I was sitting with another student who was scheduled to go up in the A152 that afternoon and mentioned to him what I had discovered and the sluggishness I felt. He asked me if I thought it was a problem and I told him if I had known in advance that the engine was 100 hours overdue it’s overhaul, I wouldn’t have gone up in it but he should make his own decision. That was the end of the conversation. Well, the next day I was out at the FBO and the owner of the A152 got up with me and chewed me out for bad-mouthing his plane to another student. He said, now the student didn’t trust the plane and I was costing him, the owner, money. Also, he said I had no business determining if the plane was safe or not. I told this man that I only told the other student only what I experienced, what I discovered and that I wouldn’t fly in it again. Well, the owner quickly agreed; I would never fly in his plane again! That was on October 2, 1987. On December 8, 1987, 2 months later and still no overhaul on the A152, a pilot took the A152 up on a flight from Tucson to Las Cruces. The plane crashed near Benson Arizona and the pilot was killed in the crash. The NTSB report left you believing it was pilot error. To this day, I feel like I was justified in telling that other student what I knew about the “feel” and the hours on the engine. By the way, the owner of that A152 was also the local FAA Examiner. When I took my final Private Test, just 20 days after the crash, the examiner asked me if we “were going to fight or to fly?” I told him I’d rather fly. We did and he signed-off in my log book. He never mentioned the crash or the reason behind it. If I were Joseph (blog #1), I wouldn’t let my shirt tail hit my pants until I had a chance to speak to the pilot of the 172. Sometimes, politics on the field matters but camaraderie among people in aviation matters more.

    • Cory
      Cory says:


      TBO’s are manufacturer recommendations ONLY. An engine’s health should NEVER be determined solely by how much time it has on it.

      It’s both perfectly legal and safe to fly an engine beyond it’s recommended overhaul time – as long as the engine is inspected and found to be operable.

      Perhaps you should seek a little education as to the proper care and feeding of aircraft engines.

      Here’s one resource that can help:

      • Joseph
        Joseph says:

        I would have no problem flying over TBO if I knew the history of the plane or owned it and had regular oil inspections and knew the results of the engine inspection at annual. However when it comes to rentals that get abused especially trainers, I don’t think I would trust a plane that was much over TBO even though legal for part 91.

      • Randy
        Randy says:

        Aircraft used constantly for training can go well beyond TBO as they don’t sit for long spells where rust and corrosion can set in. These trainers have oil changes often as well as 100hr inspections.

  18. Gene
    Gene says:

    Renting a C172 back in the early 70’s ,myself, girlfriend,and another couple (all skinny back then) planned a weekend at Sebring Florida for the auto races and sleepover under the wing with sleeping bags.

    While filling out the paperwork at the FBO my passengers loaded personal belongings along with a lightweight charchoal grill clearly visible at the top of the baggage area. I quizzed them as to what was loaded, they responded, let’s go. On landing the nose wheel came off the ground and I had to have the rear passengers lean forward to get it down so I could steer.
    After parking , I was shocked to see two cases of bottled beer hidden under the fluffy sleeping bags.
    Since then I have never allowed anyone to pack my airplane as that experience still haunts me especially knowing that there was somethng dead wrong during that flight.

  19. Stephen Phoenix
    Stephen Phoenix says:

    I’m thinking there are already enough do-gooders and experts out there, on any subject, to go around. Why add to the crowd?

    Over the years I have seen people crash after performing meticulous preflights and guys that retired to die from cancer that never should have made it that far.

    Just because you see somebody load 4 people into a 172 doesn’t mean you can also predict the outcome. Maybe you know more than he does, maybe you don’t. I’m sure the tight departure of that 172 taught the pilot more than any amount arguing or counseling, and left a much longer lasting impression.

    • Gene
      Gene says:

      Thanks Stephen,
      That situation of overloading did help me to concentrate more on safety and instill on the many students of mine over the last 38 years that the PIC must always have situational awareness of every detail before the flight and not allow unknowing passengers to innocently do something that may seem like a joke at the time but could have been fatal for us all.
      God was with us that day and allowed me to transfer this knowledge over the years with hope that it may have saved others from such an experience .

  20. Dennis Reiley
    Dennis Reiley says:

    “…pilot loaded himself and three other large adults…”

    Reporting the situation to the FAA is akin to a “day late and a dollar short”. Those people could die if you keep your mouth shut.

    Walk up to the passengers, identify yourself, state your qualifications and tell them if they all get in the aircraft it will be overloaded, especially for the air temperature and length of runway. Finish your statement with, “I thought you should know”.

  21. Buster
    Buster says:

    Pilots “being kind of a leary and cautious mentality individuals bordering on being a little negative and most population being older with diminished sexual acquisition ,satisfaction and declining hormones like to always find a guy they can kick around so they don’t have to do a close introspection of themselves. It gives them a temporary vindication making themselves “feel good while beating up on the so called labeled underdog”. A smarter, more conscious and mature approach would be to pull the guy aside and speak to him one to one for flying council with sincere concern rather than bash his ego rather than gather together behind his back and backstab him when he or she aren’t even present to defend themselves. Since many male pilots are single they are looking for a girlfriend and will never beat up on a woman for poor flying judgement but always men because they are mommas boys and many never had a father figure in their lives so this is part of their psychological developmental programing. A mature stance to take in a group is the old adage-“if you don’t have something good to say about someone then don’t say anything at all”!

  22. Gene
    Gene says:

    Sorry to be a wet blanket but the FAA is not the best choice or solution to this scenario. As a former inspector (now retired) I had first hand experience with situations you’ve described by either investigating the accident or filing the violation.
    FAA management could care less about your safety or even aviation safety in general. It is all about personal gain and power.
    The best solution, if there is one, is to find it among those of us who are active in the community and care for the future of our aviation activity.
    Out of 169 federal agencies the FAA is the highest paid and the lowest in employee morale. In short it is grossly inefficient and incompetent.
    I believe that the future is in our hands and not the federal govt.

  23. MikeCFI
    MikeCFI says:

    I would most certainly ask the pilot to take a moment to speak to me privately about the circumstances of the flight prior to takeoff and walk through the numbers with him. If his reaction was inappropriate, I would state my piece with the passengers whether the pilot liked it or not. From there, I would not hesitate to talk to the FSDO…or the NTSB. Whichever was appropriate.

  24. Dan
    Dan says:

    I’m not a pilot, (my son just became one), but I can relate this sort of thing is part of life. And I’d rather piss someone off than let them go and kill themselves and possibly others. (hate me now, love me later)
    My example is backpacking/hunting in the rocky mountains. So many people from Denver think they know what they are doing in the mountains simply because they live in Colorado. I’ve infomred more than one metro dummy that not knowing the weather and not having the right gear and NOT HAVING A MAP, etc etc could kill them. I’ll never forget the look on a dad’s face when I told him it wasn’t a good idea to have his small kids straggle behind on that trail. There was fresh mountain lion sign. Stupid people treat the place like a city park.
    Same reason I teach my son to always respect correction from other pilots. In fact seek it out and never get too proud. And NEVER SHORT CUT “stuff”.
    He takes heat for not getting his PPL until 75 hours and I told him to just ignore those kinds of “pilots”. He also gets compliments from “real” pilots all the time for his safe flying. Ok I’m done :)

  25. Richard 3a4
    Richard 3a4 says:

    I have approached other pilots on the ramp and in the lounge with an attitude of care. Often I have learned that my misconception of facts related to the intended flight resulted in friendly explanations by PICs

    There have been incidents were the PICs have thanked me for caring enough to ask ” I’m not sure, but” when approached.

    Accountability by pilots is an accepted norm. Even so more frequently in the professional world where cockpit resource management (CRM) is the norm and expected.

    When another pilot tells you “its not your business” remind him/her that their actions will reflect on all who fly, and whether or not he/she gives a darn, you do.

    Tail winds to all, Diamond Dickie

  26. David St. George
    David St. George says: we, as pilots, have a responsibility to do something about these people or should we leave them alone?…Absolutely intervene if safety is an issue. Selfishly, we as a community of fliers all suffer if another aviator dies. More personally, I would want to be stopped if I was “thinking/acting irrational and unsafe” The analogy I currently espouse is the formerly acceptable drunk driving “sport”. In modern times, no one would think twice about “taking the keys” if a friend was going to drive impaired. I say “friends don’t let friends fly stupid” take the keys!

  27. Chris
    Chris says:

    With 20 years PPL w i rating my wife still laughs every time I open the window and yell “clear prop” at start up.

    There are several pilots I refuse to fly with over the years. I am very open to tell them why and would not hesatate to state my view point if I feared for someones safety.

    In heavy construction industry we call it “Stop Work Authorty” and everyone onsite can use it with out retrabution when every they are uncertian of an outcome. . Be responcible and speak up when needed.

  28. Chris
    Chris says:

    I think anyone who is not or presumed not informed should be informed. The passengers may simply be putting blind faith into the pilot and trusting his experience. Well, that’s about like going to court without an attorney hoping the judge will provide you with legal guidance. It’s not only the passengers and pilot that are at risk of poor judgement of the pilot, but any property or lives on the ground that could also pay the price of the pilot’s poor judgement.

    I guess the better question is this: If I see something wrong and there’s a real likelihood of a disaster to come of it, will I be able to live with myself for not saying something that could have prevented it.

  29. Louie
    Louie says:

    Several years ago while furnishing rental airplanes to the airport at LVS, a C-172 with 4 people on board landed for fuel. I heard the pilot mention that they were heading to Denver. While he was paying for fuel, his wife walked over to me and asked if I thought it was safe for that flight since it was already dusk and would be dark when they landed. I told her that we had experienced fog every evening for the last week, it was forecast to be foggy when they arrived at their destination and would also be dark. I said that I would not take that flight under any circumstances and further offered to take them to dinner and drive them to a motel so they could leave early in the morning. Her husband then walked over to me and not very pleasantly stated, “Mind your own business!”. An hour later, they were all dead. Witnesses at Front Range Airport heard the plane flying back and forth over the airport at very low altitude and in dense fog until they eventually crashed. I have often considered what action I may have taken and I never come up with anything reasonable. The pilot was extremely hostile and his 3 passengers heard our conversation so they were suitably warned. The wife had given me an excellent opening to advise them of my feelings but the overbearing husband virtually ordered the passengers to get in the plane.

    Another incident that really upset me was another Cessna that stopped for gas, also at LVS, en route to Aspen. They drew a straight line on a map from LVS to Aspen which cut right across numerous 14,000 footers, at night with ongoing severe thunderstorms. I made the statement that there was no possible benefit that would entice me to make that trip. The pilot chuckled and they got in the airplane and took off. I never knew if they made it.

  30. David Andrews
    David Andrews says:

    Re the article about the CFI whose student had not had a bi-annual in 4 years. The CFI should advise the illegally flying examinee that should he take off for return to his airport of base, then the CFI would have no option but to report his delinquency to the proper authorities. Using this technique, the violator is fully informed as to what the consequences will be if he departs the check-ride airport. One thing rarely mentioned in any of the reports contained herein is the fact of the hazard to other flyers from the actions of the unqualified out of bi-annual pilot. I would plainly state to the violator that he was not going to hazard me and other qualified pilots by his illegal operations. Much along the notion of a “citizens arrest” I would proceed without apology to restrict or even prevent the outlaw operations of the violator.

  31. Kevin Anderson
    Kevin Anderson says:

    I think the one thing that makes us a professional pilot (no matter what certificate, rating or how many hours we have) is we always look out for our fellow pilots. so if you have a concern and feel strongly about letting another pilot know about it. (from one professional to a another) be prepared to help. in other words just don’t tell them what you think their doing wrong. ask them if they help with the issue you see. if your not willing to help then all your doing is belittling your fellow pilot. it takes every pilot to be as professional and safe as they can to make the general public see Aviation the way it was meant to be seen.

    ” Professional and Safe”

    after all the pilot might not know any better. it might be what he or she was taught. we all know. a good pilot never stops learning. I have asked questions to some veteran pilots and was treated like a idiot for asking a question. so remember the pilot you see doing something wrong might have already asked for help and was treated with disrespect.

  32. Lamberto
    Lamberto says:

    As I taxied to the runway at 2IS Airglades FL, I announced my position and intentions several times during taxi. I did the run-up while listening to comms on the CTAF which revealed no traffic “noise”. After the run-up, I taxied to the active and announced, “Cessna 123 holding short of runway 31″… I looked left and right (Really looking not just moving my head left and right). “Cessna 123 will be taking runway 31 left turns and departing to the SE”. As I advanced the throttle and the aircraft started moving, in front of me is a Cessna 150 flaring for the landing. I realized that this pilot was doing touch and gos the entire time I was taxing to the runway… Not one announcement was made (at least at the proper frequency).

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