Flying

Another Perspectiv­e

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For many years, I have enjoyed reading [Martha Lunken’s] articles in Flying, finding them relevant, interestin­g and accurate about so many aspects of GA flying. For reasons much too complex to explain, I abandoned my pursuit of an airman’s certificat­e in 1971, just before my first solo; and for the same reasons, [I] became committed to a career of preventing loss of life in aviation accidents, culminatin­g in my appointmen­t to be a member of the National Transporta­tion Safety Board in 2003. Again for reasons far too complex to explain, I left the NTSB in August 2005 after one case involving the FAA with a few similariti­es to [Lunken’s]—notably, a small mistake that did not involve a serious safety risk where the FAA chose to impose an extremely harsh penalty to “make an example” for others to see. When I read about [Lunken’s] “transgress­ion” back in 2020, this case came to mind right away. [Lunken’s] mea culpa about the irresistib­le urge to safely fly beneath the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge was profound, complete and acceptable in my view. [She] has acknowledg­ed every important aspect of [the] “violation,” but the FAA wanted to demonstrat­e its power to “take down” a wellknown aviation writer by imposing a penalty that certainly did not fit the “crime.” Yes, there should have been some penalty, but in this case, the FAA’s excessive use of its authority should be obvious to all. [The August] article “A Little Too Unusual” demonstrat­es remarkable grace as [Lunken] starts all over again. As an accomplish­ed pilot with more than six decades of experience, being forced by the FAA to apply for a student pilot certificat­e is an egregious abuse of power. Richard F. Healing via email

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