Monday, January 30, 2017


If you have followed my Blog for awhile, you have read some columns I have written about Santa Monica Airport (SMO) over the years. This battle has gone on for a long time.

I stated earlier that to win a seat on the City Council you had to be anti airport. Santa Monica is the only city that I know of, in order to serve on the Airport Commission, you also had to be anti airport.

On Saturday the FAA and the City of Santa Monica published an agreement that SMO will close December 31, 2028; and that the runway could be shortened immediately from 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet. I imagine that the tenants have already been notified that this will happen very quickly. The irony here is that the planes that will not be able to use SMO any longer are the quietest of all planes on the field. G V's and other planes of that genre are among the quietest planes flying today. With the reduction of useable runway only piston, turboprops and lighter jets will still be able to use SMO.

I have not flown into SMO in recent years as I did not want to support businesses that were anti airport. I do miss going there but refuse to spend any money in a city that does not support its airport. Santa Monica and Venice Beach are beautiful cities and very walkable. We never had to rent a car, and just took a cab to town and back. These were pre Uber days.

I was really surprised that the FAA caved on this. My understanding was that the airport was deeded to the city for perpetuity, as long as it remained an operating airport. SMO quit taking grants from the FAA so as to close the airport in 20 years from the last grant received. SMO stated they would close the airport in 2023. Every time this was brought up the FAA stated the airport would not close. The city sued the FAA on various occasions losing every time.

What prompted the FAA to reach this egregious decision is beyond reason. I have never trusted the FAA, and this agreement goes to further this cause. AOPA and NBAA says the battle is not over. Unfortunately I am afraid it is. This is very upsetting for general aviation as it can set a precedence of other city airports closing across the country.

I have never been to an airport before where housing is lined next to the airport fence. The city states they are going to build a park when the airport closes, and I would not bet my life on that. There might be a very small park but look for high rise buildings to be developed.

All being said this is a very sad day for general aviation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Some people just do not get it. AOPA, along with the EAA, have worked on medical reform for years. Did they get all they wanted...NO. Did they get medical reform...YES. This was an unbelievable accomplishment.

Since the FAA would do nothing about medical reform, the case was taken to Congress. The goal was to have those who had to take a 3rd class medical to fly, just be able to self certify and have a drivers license. All was well until this went to committee in Congress. One person, Senator Nelson from Florida, destroyed the original medical reform bill by requesting that one see their doctor every four years and take a medical review test on line every two years. This is in lieu of just having a drivers license and self certify. Balloon, Glider and Light Sport Pilots have been doing this for years.

Senator Nelson would not let the Bill come out of Committee unless compromise was reached. By compromise I mean that the Bill comes out of Committee his way or not at all. The Airlines pushed Nelson for the above.

EAA and AOPA realized they would have nothing without this compromise, and all their hard work for years would go nowhere. So they agreed with Senator Nelson and we now have Basic Med which has been approved by the FAA and is scheduled to go into effect May 1, 2017.

What did we as pilots get? First is that if one has held a third class medical in the past ten years they do not have to get another medical....EVER. This includes the group that has a special issuance medical. They never have to see an AME again if they fly an airplane that weighs less than 6,000 pounds, has 6 seats or less, fly at less than 250 Knots, fly at below 18,000 feet and fly day or night VFR and IFR. If you are a student pilot you will have to take a one time medical, or if you have a major medical event you will have to apply one time for a special issuance medical, one time only.

This is phenomenal. For those who do not remember, the first proposal to the FAA for medical reform was 180 horsepower or less, only carry one passenger and day only VFR. The Department of Transportation and FAA let this die in a trash can somewhere and never ruled on it. Without going to Congress there would not be any medical reform. Those with a special issuance medical had to pay around $10,000 for tests to fly again and have this reissued every year. I have a friend that was issued a special issue medical in 2015. It was renewed in November 2016. Now the FAA has come back to him and stated he has to go through all the tests again to keep his special issuance medical at a cost of another $10,000 to him. With Basic Med this will never happen again after May 1, 2017.
We have to see our personal doctor every 4 years and be signed off. Nothing goes to the FAA. You have to place the sign off sheet in your log book. I see my doctor every 6 months so this will not be a problem. In addition we have to take an online course from AOPA every 2 years. Just print off the test result and place it in your logbook. Again, nothing goes to the FAA.

Did we get everything we wanted...NO. But what we did get is GREAT. Hopefully this can be brought up to the FAA and Congress in the future for amending to just have a drivers license and self certify. As it is now I self certify every time I fly.

Basic Med will extend flying careers for many. No more extravagant costs for special issuance medicals. I would say we came out pretty good.