The International Deaf Pilots Association (IDPA) staged its Sixth Annual Fly-In June 20-26 to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Frederick, Maryland, headquarters.
Some 50 pilots from across the United States and Europe used AOPA as “home base” to explore Mid-Atlantic airports and attractions. IDPA members flew aircraft ranging from a Cessna 152 to the French-built Rallye, and a twin-engine Cessna 421.
The pilots were welcomed to AOPA by President Phil Boyer and toured the headquarters building June 21. They also participated in an Air Safety Foundation “Airspace Review” seminar and witnessed demonstrations of developing technologies that could permit communication between deaf pilots and air traffic control.
“AOPA has helped us so much through the years,” said IDPA President Clyde Smith. “For example, we worked with AOPA to develop a brochure for flight instructors on how to communicate with deaf students. That brochure is now in more than 300 flight schools.”
AOPA also went to bat for deaf and hard-of-hearing pilots when the Federal Aviation Administration rewrote the Part 61 pilot certification regulations in 1995. The FAA had removed the provision for the special operating limitation (“Not valid for flights requiring the use of radio”), which permits deaf pilots to fly VFR in most of the country’s low-altitude airspace and to nontowered airports.
The FAA was convinced to restore that provision, and today there are some 200 deaf pilots in the United States. In fact, the IDPA says the United States is the only nation that will certificate deaf pilots. The European IDPA members hold U.S. certificates. IDPA is working to convince other nations to permit deaf pilots to fly.
June 24, 1999