A long, long time ago, the brilliant vocal artist, Billie Holiday, sang:
“Why don’ t you do right
Like some other men do?”
At the time, Billie was singing to an unfaithful lover. She didn’t realize, then, that she was also singing to pilots, who should know better but who sometimes don’t do right, like some other pilots do.
Do right, like some other pilots do. Or, do the right thing, as all pilots should do – whatever the right thing may be. In my case, right now, doing the right thing involves not flying and not instructing. Lemme explain.
On 29April2019 I had surgery on my left hand. The condition is called “Osteoarthritis of the left first CMC joint”. Basically, the cartilage separating my thumb from the hand went bye-bye, and I had been blessed with the joy of bone rubbing on bone for the last 7 or 8 years. There are two treatment options: 1) ibuprofen for the rest of my life; 2) surgery. The surgery involves removing a tendon my my forearm and wrapping it between my thumb and my hand. It then involves 10-12 days in a soft cast, 4 weeks in a hard cast, some weeks in a left thumb splint, and a 6 week blitzkrieg by the “rehab nazis”. Achtung.
Since my left hand is useless anyway (my wife calls me the least ambidextrous person she’s ever met), I had thought that I could do some instructing – after finishing the more powerful pain meds. After a while, however, I realized how self-serving, and possibly dangerous, an idea that was. Sure I had the four fingers of my left hand fully functional and out of the cast, thus I could control the throttle, and my right hand was available for the yoke.
But suppose a student got totally cattywampus on the approach to landing. Would I be able to quickly recover, wearing a cast, even with my four fingers free? I decided to err on the cautious side. I imagined how I’d feel, sitting across a desk from a FSDO wanker, trying to explain why I was instructing wearing a cast. Not a pretty image.
Want examples of not doing the right thing – or doing the wrong thing?
We had a newly-minted commercial pilot, with 280 hours, appear before the club’s Board of Directors this month. He appeared because of some astute detective work by the VP/Ops Manager and Director of Safety, who found that this member had flown a whole bunch of hours in a club 182 over a very short period. They found that the club member had a profile on a website operated by a shitbag organization known as “Blackbird”, which is attempting to become the Uber of the air. After listening to him explain that he had not idea that he was doing something against Federal Aviation Regulations, and against his club membership, we threw his ass out of the club. This rocket scientist had no idea that he was running an illegal Part 135 air charter operation. He had no idea that he was jeopardizing the very existence of the club because, had he an accident, the insurance on that airplane would have been voided. The club would have fallen under the very harsh spotlight of an FAA investigation.
(I have more examples of doing the wrong thing, but our Golden Retriever, Skye, had tumors on her lungs that, over the last ten months, made breathing a chore – we had to put her down, yesterday. You can imagine that I’ve been busy caring for her, and my wife, during this ordeal. I’ll finish up in a week or so.)