Sifting through the details
So first of all, some hard facts; AOPA provides incredible services to us, the members. As a pilot who started flying in the United Kingdom, I saw first-hand what a lack of advocacy can do to one’s freedom to fly. The nation that birthed the Spitfire, the first jet engine, the first jet airliner, the Harrier and the Concorde is now an also-ran in aviation. Why? Because the British flying community did not fight to prevent the death of aviation in the UK and as fields closed and legislation increased it became harder and more expensive to take to the air. For that reason I am a fierce defender of AOPA’s mission and all AOPA is doing for General Aviation.
In order to execute that mission AOPA needs funds – traditionally this money has come from dues and advertising and like most other groups, AOPA has seen a drop in advertising revenues. As such, AOPA can either choose to do less for the membership or look to raise money in other ways. Would any of us like to see our fabulous magazine, the best in aviation, cease to exist? Capitol Hill advocacy diminish or the stellar work of the Safety Foundation disappear? I think not.
AOPA recently announced a relationship with Life Line Screening, a company offering approaches to find disease before it is clinically evident. I have always held that we should take care of our health first and then deal with our ability to fly. To avoid finding out about a potentially life-threatening condition because it might place one under the FAA microscope is short-sighted. To that end I underwent a coronary artery scan at age 40 despite having no symptoms, family history or any other risk factor and would have doubtless sailed through one of the more standard evaluations, a cardiac stress test. The medical literature would suggest this was a waste of my money as insurance does not reimburse, but, having lost a friend to sudden cardiac death who also had no obvious risk factors I wanted to do the best for my health and know what state my arteries were in. Thankfully I passed with flying colors.
Another use of Life Line Screening is to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm – if found, one will be followed up and may eventually need surgery (Avoiding cockpit explosions. AOPA Pilot September 2010 page 34). Yes, this will mean enhanced scrutiny from FAA but perhaps that inconvenience is preferable to premature admission to six feet of real estate and a pine box.
Again, before embarking on anything relating to your health please speak to your personal physician and consider all the implications. Medicine is an imperfect science and we all differ in our needs and interpretations.
May 17, 2011