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July 2, 2013

Ramp Checks at Pancake Flyins

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A badge-carrying FAA inspector attended the Wadena Flyin last weekend, raising the question as to the effect that his presence might have on attendance at Flyins, in general.  The gentleman inspector, to my knowledge, ramp checked only the two Medivac helicopters who had graciously flown in to show the community what was available to them.  Was it likely that the pilots of these Medivac helicopters would fail a ramp check?  In my opinion, extremely unlikely.  Could this be seen as a means of intimidation?  Unfortunately, I think so.  I felt this inspector's presence had a suppressive effect upon the moods of the pilots who attended...including me...even though I know that I was prepared for a ramp check.  There is the impression, however, that no matter how prepared one is for a ramp check the inspector could find something improper if they really wanted to.  I know that is how I feel about this, and I am an active speaker of the FAASTeam in Minnesota, I have great respect for our FSDO.  Is it an illogical fear?  Possibly.  It is a fear, however, any way you cut it.

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While I understand the need for ramp checks as a means of making sure people are following the rules, I feel there are less intimidating places at which these checks could be performed.  The number of aircraft that attend these Flyins are great, so it doesn't take a math major to understand that a whole lot of ramp checks could be performed over a short period of time.  It would maximize the "yield", so to speak of the FAA inspector.

Ramp checks at Flyins, however, do have a suppressive effect, in my opinion.  At a time when we are appealing to communities to rally behind their airports, around aviation, we need good turnouts of pilots, young and old, to fly their Champ, their Rans RV, their Cessna 150, to the Flyin.  We do not want them to stay away for fear they might fail a ramp check.  It is not my intention with this note to take sides against the FAA, nor against safety, but rather to suggest that the FAA be a bit more judicious in deploying inspectors to Flyins.  After all, the FAA and we have pilots have something in common...aircraft and safety.

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