'What, me worry?'

September 17, 2012

AOPA Pilot Protection Services Jonathan Sackier

Jonathan Sackier

  • Surgeon, Clinical Professor
  • 30 years of healthcare experience
  • Author of the “Fly Well” column in AOPA Pilot
  • Flying since 15 years old, owns a Columbia 400

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'What, me worry?'

Alfred E. Neuman, the slightly manic icon of Mad magazine fame brought this phrase into common usage. He was probably not a pilot. “It will never happen to me, so why should I worry?” As aviators we do not approach our flights in such cavalier manner; no, we plan, preflight, and stay ahead of the airplane and any eventuality the fates throw at us. We worry, but in a sensible and reasonable manner. We engage in continuing education aware that knowledge is power—and who doesn’t like a bit more power?

I am 100 percent certain that everyone reading this letter is going to have a health challenge that could end their flying days and will eventually end all their days. Like you, I just want that to be as far in the future as possible. That is why I am doing my utmost to support Pilot Protection Services. This AOPA offering was built to boost your medical and legal horsepower—you might not have a higher rate of climb, but you will be able to climb stairs a little longer. Pilot Protection Services brings together a range of experts and aviation attorneys providing content that may help you head off the grim reaper and any reapers with eyes on your ticket to fly.

For instance, we are expanding the website, putting out tips filled with news you can use, launching regular webinars, and will soon have more helpful material than you can shake a stick at. Even your walking stick. At AOPA Aviation Summit in October, we have panels on how to avoid the FAA nixing your medical (“Oklahoma, we have a problem,”Thursday, Oct. 11, 3:15 to 4:30 p.m.)and a session to teach you why you need oxygen (“Live long and prosper,” Friday, Oct. 12, 3:15 to 4.30 p.m. ). There are also sessions on completing your medical application online, how to lose weight so your airplane can carry more, and dealing with the dreaded special issuance. You should see the faculty we have lined up for you: the chief scientific officer and CEO of PepsiCo, a world-renowned physician and passionate pilot; and NASA’s chief medical officer who also builds airplanes. We shall also be joined by Dr. Warren Silberman whose name graces our medical certificates and who in retirement is supporting AOPA as well as the man charged with filling his large shoes at the FAA, Dr. Courtney Scott.

Chances are any given pilot will not have to endure a life-threatening crash, yet we all take proper precautions. But chances are every pilot sooner or later will face a medical issue that could end their flying days or find themselves on the wrong end of an FAA or other aero-legal dilemma. When things go wrong, Pilot Protection Services is there to help. If you need to submit documents to the FAA for either a medical or legal matter you can certainly do that on your own, but wouldn’t you rather have them reviewed by top notch experts who can help prevent a simple error that could slow down or, even worse, halt the process?

Do like I have done and join Pilot Protection Services. Please consider coming to AOPA Aviation Summit--it is going to be a fabulous event and Silberman, Gary Crump, and I, along with AOPA Legal Services Plan attorneys, will be there at your disposal. Learn more about the Pilot Protection Services program.

Fly well!

'What, me worry?'

Alfred E. Neuman, the slightly manic icon of Mad magazine fame brought this phrase into common usage. He was probably not a pilot. “It will never happen to me, so why should I worry?” As aviators we do not approach our flights in such cavalier manner; no, we plan, preflight, and stay ahead of the airplane and any eventuality the fates throw at us. We worry, but in a sensible and reasonable manner. We engage in continuing education aware that knowledge is power—and who doesn’t like a bit more power?  to continue reading…


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Jonathan Sackier is a surgeon, aircraft owner and AOPA Pilot Protection Services expert.

Jonathan Sackier