U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation
Administration



St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074

 

October 2001 

 

AVIATION SAFETY NEWSLETTER

www.faa.gov/fsdo/stlfsdo

Thought for the month.....
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must,
like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
(Thomas Paine)

A Glimpse of Freedom.... It's difficult to appreciate the size of the forest when we're standing in the middle of it surrounded by trees. So it is with the freedom and privileges we have in our country. We often don't see them. Sometimes we take them for granted, and even abuse them.

Occasionally, rights and privileges get mixed-up and confused. We begin to assume that certain privileges are actually rights. Of course, we know that our "rights" are guaranteed to us under the Constitution, and its amendments. Some of us have become very good at demanding our rights. We're allowed to do that in our country. Privileges on the other hand, are not guaranteed. Incredible as it may seem, our Founding Fathers failed to foresee aircraft flying through our skies and neglected to include flying as a "right" when they drafted the Constitution.

That fact was made most clear when our privilege to operate in the airspace above the United States was rescinded, for the first time in history, on September 11th. It was at that moment, when the last aircraft landed, that we had a chance to stand on the ground, look up at the sky, and get a glimpse of the freedom we no longer had. We could still vote, speak our mind, and attend the church of our choice, but we could not fly.

In retrospect, getting the fleet down was a lot easier than getting it back into the air. The security forces of the United States were calling the shots, coordinating their decisions with the Department of Transportation, then passing those instructions to the FAA to be implemented and enforced. The Internet allowed everyone to get the latest information at virtually the same time, which very often meant that we all became confused at the same time. Clarification was necessary to ensure we were all on the same sheet of music, and even then, it was easy to miss a note. There were short changes, false starts, and recalls. When it was obvious that confusion caused people to be in the wrong place through no fault of their own, no action was taken. On the other hand, when individuals knowingly ignored the restrictions, the hammer fell hard.

We all had to learn, or re-learn, a lot of things about flying. The phone number of the Automated Flight Service Station was added to the speed dial list of many cell phones. We were reintroduced to NOTAM's and TFR's - big time. We quickly read-up on the procedures for responding to intercept signals from a jet fighter. Understanding Class B airspace however, got a lot simpler. It starts at the surface and goes up forever. For the most part everyone kept their cool, even with all the changes and inconveniences. We fielded hundreds of calls from pilots seeking information or clarification. Usually we confirmed what they already knew - you can't go. Despite the bad news, all I ever heard was, "OK. Thanks for your help." Even our Ag Pilots, who were released and recalled more times than I can count, did whatever was asked of them. I guess any time any one of us felt like our lives were going badly, all we had to do was turn on the TV, and it all immediately came into proper perspective.

Things have changed. Most of the changes are temporary, some may become permanent. How close we return to pre-911 privileges will, I suspect, depend on how well we do with the changes we have been given to date. If we demonstrate that we can comply with the restrictions placed on us, there will probably be a willingness to relax those restrictions at the proper times. If, on the other hand, we fail to check and comply with NOTAM's and TFR's and there are a number of infractions, the reaction would be just the opposite.

Two things that have not changed, and never will, is that freedom is defined by limitations and always comes with responsibilities. The fact that we can still climb into an aircraft at one shore of our country, and fly across its widest part to the other shore, without ever having to talk to a soul, is a privilege unimaginable in most places in the world. ON 911 we got a glimpse of that freedom - when it was taken away.

Upcoming Events

October 6
5th Annual Helicopter Safety Seminar
Mid Coast training facility, CPS
8AM to 1PM

October 18
Pizza Inn, 1701 Porter Wagner Blvd., West Plains, MO
The Distractions of Technology
7PM to 9PM

October 24
St. Louis Downtown Parks Airport
Mid Coast Terminal
Surviving on the Downtown Parks Airport
12PM to 2PM and 7PM to 9PM

December 13
AOPA Air Safety Foundation
Fuel Awareness
Florissant Valley College, Multi-purpose Room
7PM to-9PM

FRED P. HARMS
Operations Safety Program Manager
1-800-322-8876 extension 4835
Fred.Harms@faa.gov