The Police State – Big Brother Is Watching

Be careful what you do, what you say, and how you fly – Big Brother is watching. Apparently your friends (certainly not mine) at the FSDO get reports whenever you do something “wrong”.
What does “wrong” mean? How about rejecting a takeoff. Maybe returning to the airport just after taking off. Then there’s any kind of landing incident. The FSDO has its ears and eyes, everywhere. And, unfortunately, they include our friends in ATC, who are required to report whenever one of us does something “wrong” on a runway.
There was a time when a landing mishap – say, a ground loop – wasn’t a big issue because ground loops happen. A pilot misjudges the amount of correction needed to control a crosswind, or he has a momentary lapse in concentration. The wind is relentless and unforgiving, never loses focus, and will send us round and round if we let it. Stuff happens – every tailwheel pilot I’ve ever known has had a ground loop. But, now, the FSDO needs to investigate because, the void knows that they don’t have enough to do shuffling all those meaningless pieces of paper they play with ever day of their lives. Do a doughnut on a runway and the FSDO comes calling. Even if there’s no damage – as so often happens in a ground loop – the FSDO has to stick its nose in to investigate what happened.
Reject a takeoff and be prepared for the worst. Why would you reject a takeoff? You’re cleared, you apply full power and something seems a tad off: the tach is showing 2200 rpm instead of 2300; the airspeed indicator doesn’t seem to move; the passenger window, or door, pops open. Something’s not right and you choose safety, and reject the takeoff. As you slow to a stop and exit the runway, ATC asks the question: “Why did you reject the takeoff?” Be very careful what you say because, if it’s a mechanical thing, the FSDO will be pushing its nose into your business.
You reject a takeoff for a safety concern, but, in order to keep the FSDO out of your life, you say, “Training.” You tell them, “A coyote was crossing the runway.” You suggest, “Mind your own goddam bidness,” … don’t we wish?
Because the FSDO wants to know about every rejected takeoff, pilots may choose to continue a takeoff rather than deal with bureaucratic interference in matters that do not concern the buffoons. They’re encouraging pilots to continue a takeoff that may result in disaster.
If you’re uncertain of the outcome of a takeoff, there’s not a lot of time to decide what’s wrong and what you must do. You must quickly analyze the information and make a prompt, safe decision – and you cannot ever be forced to think, “What if I have to talk to the FSDO because I just rejected this takeoff?” Most pilots would rather talk to the IRS than the FSDO. If worrying about what the FSDO might do enters into your analysis, you’re screwed – you’ll make a bad decision, you’ll choose to takeoff and, perhaps, rue your decision at very low altitude in an underperforming airplane.
The mission statement of Flight Standards District Offices ought to be, “Ensuring safety of flight,” not, “Second guessing Pilots-in-Command.” When the FSDO sneaks around like rodents in a cesspool, only unhappy results occur. A pox upon them.

Posted in Rants