AOPA added comment functionality to its website in 2013, allowing members to weigh in on stories. Below is a recap of the three stories receiving the most comments this year.
The story receiving the most comments—a whopping 560—was, “New bill would expand driver’s license medical,” which ran on Dec. 11. Commenters were energized by Congress's action that would allow pilots to use the driver’s license medical standard for noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats, as long as they carry five or fewer passengers, fly below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots. The move came after two years of inaction by the FAA on the AOPA/EAA medical exemption petition. One commenter wrote: “As a cardiologist, I can say categorically that having to have a third class medical in no way makes aviation safer for pilots, passengers, or people on the ground. There [is] nothing either predictive or preventive accomplished by the procedure. Hooray for a few of our reps in Washington for trying to inject a modicum of sanity into the FAA regs!!”
AOPA's Nov. 20 story about the FAA’s new policy on sleep apnea, “AOPA insists FAA withdraw sleep apnea policy,” was the second story that fired up members. The 116 comments were overwhelmingly against the FAA’s move. A comment by Spraul1 summed it up thusly: “This rule is a joke and government over reach of the highest level. I am a pilot training for my commercial and ATP and have a BMI of 40. I can reach the pedals and move the yoke to full deflection just fine. Myself and other aviators of the same size have never been tired in the cockpit. The FAA cannot deal with the bureaucratic mess it already has, we don't need anymore useless paperwork or cost."
Pilots who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device also commented, explaining the testing process, their experience getting a medical certificate, and sleeping with the machine. Aviation medical examiners also weighed in on both sides of the issue.
And last, but not least was the story, “'Uh, say again?' Boeing 747 Dreamlifter mistakenly lands at Jabara Airport,” on Nov. 21, with 78 comments. Quite a few commenters admitted to doing something similar. Some offered praise, while others were a bit unforgiving of the mistake.
AOPA Member 00994747 said, “There for but the grace of God go I. Log enough hours and you will also find yourself in the same situation. They walked away and the plane is still usable so don't criticize until you have been in their shoes.”
“I'm glad everything worked out and no damage was done to man or machine, but what were these pilots doing?” asked commenter Jeff Hunter. “They appear to not even have been following the very basic procedures expected of single-engine piston drivers like myself.”
One commenter said the pilots should have been commended. “Yes they were in the dark and deceived by a runway that that was perfectly aligned with their vantage point as they crossed the centerline of Jabara while they were on the centerline of McConnell. The runway was smaller so it appeared to be the same distance as they expected to see McConnell. Then things happened too quickly for them to realize their mistake and they made an excellent short field landing. I'd hire them in heartbeat as they proved their skill and you can be sure they won't make the same mistake twice!”
And Fubar82 wrote: “Everyone commenting has a 747 type rating right? Oh you don't? Everyone is so quick to judge. You think things happen faster on approach then in a 172? Give them a break. And yes there is a hell of a lot more equip in that aircraft and the checklists are a bit longer which doesn't mean it makes it easy to land. They are pilots just like you and me. They put their pants on the same way.”