One translation of the book of Daniel, 12:4 states: “Many will travel everywhere, and knowledge will grow.” As pilots we certainly travel and, in aviation, as in medicine, knowledge grows. But knowledge and data are different, and separating the two is critical. From the first cave paintings until 2003, Google’s chief information officer estimated mankind generated five exabytes of information (one exabyte equals one billion gigabytes, or, roughly speaking, my daughter’s instant messages in a given day). We now produce five exabytes every two days, mostly consisting of such important messages as “RU OK? CU latuh” and pictures of bemused tourists. Five exabytes is also the total estimated number of words spoken since the first grunt. At my medical school graduation our dean said, “In five years half of what you have learned will prove to be incorrect; trouble is, we don’t know which half!” And do you know what they call the chap who graduates at the bottom of his medical school class? Doctor!
So how is all of this relevant to you?
I have been privileged to write articles for AOPA, focusing on issues that might impair or shorten your life and, importantly, time flying. I have always attempted to provide one or two sensible steps to mitigate health risks. News you can use. The “Fly Well” commentaries provoke correspondence, which fall into three categories: 1) “Thank you— I did as you suggested and am now happier, healthier, wealthier, and better looking” (I love getting these!); 2) “Thanks for the article about toenail fungus, my problem is dandruff, what can I do about it?” (these keep me busy); and, 3) “You, sir, are a total buffoon and should be taken for an Al Capone walk” (not so keen on these). However, these missives, together with calls to Gary Crump, AOPA director of medical certification, and the phenomenal work by AOPA’s Ed Thompson and Tami Pellas, have led to a wonderful new development: the AOPA Pilot Protection Services (PPS).
About one in four members has signed up for the AOPA legal and medical protection plans—I am a member of both. AOPA is now repositioning these programs under one offering, moving from being reactive to proactive, putting pilots back where they want to be—in control. The details of the plan will evolve over the coming months but were first unveiled at the Sun ’n Fun Fly-in in late March. AOPA Pilot Protection Services will feature content and tips from both medical and legal professionals who also are pilots to help you avoid problems that might impede your freedom to fly. In short, AOPA is moving to one discrete, multimedia, content-driven program providing engaging conversation with pilots while also including services to help protect you should medical or legal problems arise.
To help drive this effort AOPA has recruited Dr. Warren Silberman, who ran medical certification at the FAA for many years. I am thrilled at the chance to work with Warren and know the insights he provides will inspire and support our initiatives. As pilots and fellow physicians we view the world through the same optic.
In addition to the enhanced multimedia content you will see evolve in the coming months, there will be further services. With an aging pilot population and ever more complex medical therapies, securing expeditious FAA review for medical certification is becoming a more important service—and one that AOPA is striving to deliver. Of course, taking suitable steps to avoid health problems is even better.
America is facing an obesity epidemic, and pilots are not immune. Overeating and a lack of exercise cause much suffering and early death, and as a result, have been covered extensively in these pages. Now AOPA is teaming with a physician group offering supervised programs to help pilots address this problem.
The Pilot Protection Services plan has a catchy slogan: “We’ve got your back” and this is so true as we shall endeavor to bring you access to a range of health and wellness benefits at special AOPA discounted rates to help protect you. In addition to ensuring your physical vigor, the new program provides legal insights from Yodice and Associates featuring John and Kathy Yodice and Ron Golden. So stay tuned to this channel, Facebook, Twitter, email, and pigeon express—lots of good news is coming your way.
The products and services that PPS will be delivering are representative of the direction AOPA has taken under Craig Fuller’s leadership: Let us strengthen pilots, providing offerings they cannot obtain elsewhere at the lowest possible price, empowering them to be the best they can be.
Knowledge, not just data. Exabytes of news you can use.
Email the author at [email protected].