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Flying and the older pilot

I was deleting some old letters on my PC when I found one to a flying fiend of mine who had decided to give up flying. This was 15 years ago when he was in his early 70,s but he had a heart condition which was not going to improve. At that time I was in my mid 50’s, in good health, passed my medicals routinely, and I suspect I thought that I didn’t have any worries in that department. Now that I am in my early 70’s, still passing my medicals, I am keenly aware that time is not on my side and that it wouldn’t take much for to have stop flying due to a medical failure. Below is part of the letter.

I don’t want to depress fellow pilots but I feel that occasionally we need to be jerked into reality. Try to get today want you want out of flying, because there is no guarantee you can put off until tomorrow.

Old pilots never die, they just go IMC

Nuthampstead , United Kingdom

Yes – a very good reminder that you never know what is just around the corner…

So many pilots stop flying because they fail their medical, or because they have to downgrade to the NPPL or LAPL and lose any IFR capability.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Propman says….I don’t want to depress fellow pilots..

Once you start thinking like this post…the next thing is that you are booking yourself into an old peoples home!

I sure hope the pilot I saw the other day…I am told he is in his 80’s and flying a TBM900 doesnt read that, however he is probably too busy to notice.

But then it is not “all or nothing”. If you lose your medical you can always fly with a fitter and probably younger person in the RHS as PIC.
And maybe that person would even be kind enough to let you touch the controls once in a while
Actually, currently you’d probably find plenty of young people waiting for a job at the airlines who’d love to build some hours this way, and you may even enjoy doing some mentoring. No pilots, don’t neccesarily become creative now and think of a young RHS pilot of the opposite sex. Of course it would not be like it was before maybe, but better than nothing. It is my back-up plan..

Private field, Mallorca, Spain

That would be my plan too (no way would I stop flying) but it can be surprisingly hard to find co-pilots, or even passengers for that matter.

Most “young” men (very few women around GA ) have a very full social schedule (chasing girls, or activities which present maximum opportunities for it), most older men who don’t have family ties are chasing girls as much as they can (because that job doesn’t get any easier either, and you hear from them only when they are in between squeezes), and the bottom line is that you can do one “new place” trip per person per year and any more often they tend to get bored.

I fly once a week and no way could I find co-pilots for that. Years ago, my ex demanded a co-pilot when I was taking either of my sons for a flight (hilariously she was OK if the “co-pilot” sat in the back!) and I could not even find them for a trip to say Prague if I paid for everything including the hotel and food. I think I did two trips like that, in years, and both cost me an arm and a leg extra. I had the slickest newest plane at the entire airport but for each flight I would send maybe 10-20 texts to a list of contacts, to get one who could find the time.

So one would have a hard time continuing to be an aircraft owner, if one had to constantly fish for co-pilots.

But then different people revolve in different places.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

But then different people revolve in different places

Yes, where I live, right now young guys would kill to be able to fulfill the role to serve as my pilot.. Which is a such a pity. Really wish they could just find a decent flying job. Well, maybe they will. According to our boss Prime Minister Rajoy, we are recuperating nicely! Some others differ, but let’s not get into politics.

Come to think of it, better watch my back. Before you know it, some of these lads may want to hurt me just badly enough for me to lose my medical

Private field, Mallorca, Spain

You really should not let it get to you and remember that whilst health will deteriorate with old age, the degree that it will do so varies hugely with every individual.

I was reminded of this the other day by a visit from an old friend who at 94 still retains his medical. He seems to fly many things from Warriors, motorgliders and microlights having recently passed a GST to add a microlight rating to his license. He has a wealth of widely varied experiance in flying and engineering as he is also an inspector with the LAA, BMAA and BGA.

A delightful guy, and an inspiration

For all you pilots who have worked with/ flown with/ renewed their I/R with, I am sure you will be pleased to
know that I bumped into Eric Thurston a few months ago and at 94 he is still alert and fit as a flea and as much a gentleman as ever.

He was in Essex …‘’checking out his business interests’‘….for some people there is no stopping and this is why attitude is the key,
some individuals are ’old’ at 40.

How did your friend learn to fly, GS?

(people of that dwindling age-group often having learned to fly in interesting times)

Last Edited by kwlf at 05 Mar 17:47

Age is an interesting subject with regards to flying.

When I was sixty I wanted to retire but my employers kept upping my pay and perks.

In my early sixties one of my employers decided I was going to fly in the air show business for him so I ended up getting a European Airdisplay Authority and joined " The French Flying Legends ".

When I was sixty five I once again tried to retire and my employers raised my pay and perks.

When I was about to turn seventy and getting a medical renewal the doctor asked me how I felt generally and I said I found that I felt tired after doing the aerobatic practice routines……he asked me what G loads I was pulling and I said eight positive and four negative.

He said " not anymore " and went on to explain that the internal organs get weak with age and in his opinion I was at the age where I should quit doing aerobatics….so at age seventy I finally retired.

I will be eighty in October and am still as healthy as I was at seventy, however I do not regret quitting flying for a living because even if I did not die from excessive G loads I probably would have killed a bureaucrat and be sentenced to death anyhow.

Chuck E.

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