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KevinAu

Question for you pilots...

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How do you feel about deaf pilots flying around out there? Basically, I'm talking about no-radio pilots that do not communicate on the radio at all, and fly by the see-and-be-seen style. I'm asking because I am one myself, and I recently had an incident with another deaf friend of mine, where we were faced with some pilots that felt very strongly that deaf pilots were so dangerous that we should never be allowed to fly, which strongly insulted me and my friend. Here's a recount of what happened: We were on a long cross country, from AJO to MHR then back to AJO, roughly 700 miles round trip. We were on our final leg, coming back to AJO. My friend did a 2500' AGL overfly, then came around on an easy, long 45 degree entry for downwind, both of us constantly scanning for other aircraft. We only spotted three of them... one flying over us headed to some other destination when we were on downwind, when abeam the threshold, we had a plane taking off, and a second plane taking off when we were on base. Here's where it gets a little tricky. We turned onto final, not seeing any conflicting planes, and commenced with a normal landing. Keep in mind that there were no radio comms through this whole time, which is entirely allowed at uncontrolled airports, which are the only ones we ever fly in and out of, except once in a while we will fly into controlled airports that are closed, and therefore are operating as class E for the night. While cleaning out the plane, we were approached by 3 VERY angry older men, practically screaming at us that we almost had a mid-air with them, and demanding to see our licenses and saying we would report us to the FAA. I can hear enough to communicate in person, although it is a pretty rusty deal, but Kevin cannot hear at all so he was relying on me to tell him why these old men were out of nowhere yelling at him.I'm going to shorten this us a bit, but one comment one of the men said really got me furious at him... I told him that we cannot hear on the radios and therefore do not use the radios (this is after he demanded to know why we weren't making our radio calls, to which I replied that we had no requirement to, on top of the fact that we were deaf), and he said "Well then you shouldn't be allowed to fly"I worked hard for my license and had to go through some lame, lousy red tape to get it, and so did Kevin... like I was going to let some stupid hothead get in my face and tell me I shouldn't fly. Here's what happened, according to accounts of witnesses on the ground:The men were in a Maule, which is the plane we spotted taking off when we were abeam the threshold on downwind. What we didn't see is they were flying a very tight and low pattern, about half the size of a standard pattern for a 172, and they were flying 300-500' AGL, far below the 1000' AGL pattern altitude. So what had happened was, while we were on downwind, preparing for base, and after we turned base, preparing for final, these guys cut us short and ended up turning final about the same time we did, at which point they climbed up and over us (at this point they actually blamed us for cutting them off on final by flying in UNDER them... when they were the ones that came up and flew OVER us) To wrap this up, we had a bunch of people watching the whole thing, many of them VERY experienced and long-time aviators, and they all backed us, saying that if these men went to the FAA against us to try to get our licenses taken away for not talking on the radio, then they would go to the FAA against them for flying an illegal pattern. So what did I learn? There's plenty of people that think no-radio biplanes are okay but a no-radio pilot is not... what do you think?

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You did nothing wrong. Those men were full of arrogant $h!t. They were the rulebreakers that day. One thing children do is if they do something wrong and got busted at it, they try to blame somebody else. They got busted for their pattern flying by having a near hit with you. If they go to the FAA, they'll just end up having their own licenses pulled if they described it as you described it.

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If what you report is true, I would encourage you to tell these three guys to go ahead and complain to the FAA. I can just imagine the response they'd get: 'Well, we were flying a 300 feet AGL circuit at an uncontrolled airfield, when...'. 'I'm sorry, you were doing what?!!'Even the most stupid, inexperienced pilot in the world would know flying a circuit at that height without radio controlled traffic was a dumb thing to do, and I think if they do not recognise that, then it is they who should be getting their tickets punched.I fly gliders, which very often do not use radios, operate from uncontrolled airfields, and also fly in close proximity to one another. Which is of course one of the reasons why we wear 'chutes (not that we'd get much chance to use one if anything happened at circuit height). So of course look-out is paramount, but if everyone is watching where they are going, then there is no danger.In fact I remember an instructor absolutely screaming at me and giving me a dressing down I've never forgotten to this day (which I deserved), after I made a turn once without looking carefully in the direction I was going to go! Sadly, a few years back at a field I flew from, two people who were not observing these protocols, managed to collide with another aircraft on a normal circuit and all three pilots were killed in the resulting crashes.Circuit height and protocol is absolutely gospel in these circumstances, but of course sometimes gliders have to scrape back in on a direct course rather than flying a circuit. Whenever anyone does that, they are not coming in the way everyone is expecting and looking out for, and it is therefore largely their responsibility to ensure that the way is clear. Other aicraft should of course be aware that this might happen, but it is most definitely the aircraft flying an unusual approach which should watch out for conflicts.Of course, in the case of a powered aircraft, which can easily fly a proper circuit at will, what they did is bloody stupid in the extreme, in view of the fact that they knew aircraft without radios could, and were, using the airfield, and that aircraft in such circumstances would sensibly use the recognised circuit pattern. The circuit pattern reduces the risk of high vertical closure rates between aircraft if everyone is 'in the slot', so to go against it is asking for trouble.You should be aware however, that even though I believe you were not at fault in your example, even if you are in the right, its kind of difficult to argue the point when you are dead! I would personally keep an eye out for those idiots from now on if I were you!I don't think there is anything wrong with a deaf pilot at all for the kind of flying you do, but there are plenty of 'dumb' pilots out there, so look out!Incidentally, how does having impaired hearing affect your flying, does any lack of balance come into play? Just curious.

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What class airspace were you in? I guess that officially there is nothing wrong with it, but I too have found myself getting a little ticked off at some folkls because they weren't communicating their intentions and I was.Jeff

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You know, the only real impact my hearing has is it limits where I can go... specifically, I have to stay clear of all controlled airspaces and airports. It's not that difficult anyway. I'm not fond of the big stuff... I MUCH prefer the little airports. Jeff, I was in Class E.This isnt the first time someone has been ###### at me for being a NORDO (No Radio) pilot... wont be the last either.

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Todd,Of course you already know that it is perfectly legal for you, or any other pilot for that matter, to fly NORDO in class E airspace. If you have a radio and are not hearing impaired, you'd be negligent to not use the radio, but it is not in your case required.As a full-time flight instructor who flies into all sorts of airports 5 days a week, my observation is the use of a radio at a non-towered airport does not eliminate conflicts or collision hazards. Many pilots who are not deaf and who have radios are a danger because they lack the skill and proficiency to communicate clearly. I'm often uncertain where these pilots are and what their intentions are when they make an announcement on the CTAF.Having a radio doesn't guarantee that a pilot will follow accepted procedures and best practices for non-towered airports. I routinely see pilots enter a crowded traffic pattern in an unsafe manner, fly non-standard pattern altitudes, ignore noise abatement procedures, make unclear self-announcements, and generally act in a me-first, selfish, uncourteous, and dangerous manner.You are not required to show your pilot certificate to anyone other than the FAA or a law enforcement officer. The other pilots may have been angry, but they're adults and are responsible for their own behavior. It sounds like you handled the situation as well as anyone could be expected to.I teach my students to remember the old Samurai adage when flying into a non-towered airport: Expect nothing and be prepared for anything.Keep flying,John

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John, I like that adage of yours... I think that actually applies to flying in ALL areas, not just concerning flying uncontrolled.I actually do, since I can speak, announce intentions most of the time. At this time, my friend was the PIC so it was not up to me on that particular leg. Earlier in the flight, flying into Fresno-Chandler (FCH) I could see a couple of planes in the pattern so I dug out my headset and made my calls just so others would at least be aware of my presence. Sometimes, however, I dont, simply because it is really slow day and it is actually quite a liberating thing to truly not be connected with the "outside world"... it's just you, your plane, and the sky. It is vitally important to fly the proper procedures, entries, patterns, etc when you are NORDO. We at Deaf Pilots Association stress that very strongly, because we already have enough adversaries in the form of people that believe deaf pilots shouldn't be allowed to fly, including some FAA members. We do not need any further incidents that people can use as ammo against us. We did have one member that got into an accident that severely injured himself and his two passengers. He was on short final when someone rolled onto the runway for takeoff, just before he cross the threshold. He pulled up to avoid, and consequently got himself into a departure stall and crashed to the right of the runway. He ended up with all of his ribs broken, and both legs broken. His 15 year old daughter suffered a broken back, and his other passenger suffered chest-down paralysis. So what happened? The pilot on the ground was relying completely on his radio, and never looked for traffic, let alone looked at the approach path for arriving aircraft, before taking the active, and because the deaf pilot was NORDO, the pilot on the ground never "heard him coming".

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Well, back to the question at hand. How do I feel about deaf pilots? I think that the radio is a very useful tool in aviation. Even if a pilot is stumbling along on the radio, and I can't quite tell exactly where he is, at least I know that there is a bogey somewhere nearby. I wouldn't object to a deaf pilot being required to announce their intentions. If a simple solution such as a light illuminating when the deaf pilots radio is receiving a transmission could be visible so that the deaf pilot doesn't step on another announcement, then that deaf pilot could broadcast their intentions when the frequency is open. Taking a cue from a student pilot beginning transmissions with the phrase "student pilot", a deaf pilot could do the same thing, and begin each transmission with "deaf pilot." This way, other non-hearing impaired pilots would know not to expect any communications with the deaf pilot, yet still have the additional awareness that a radio gives.Safety is a touchy subject. As a deaf pilot, you are willing to accept the additional risk, albeit small, of not being able to communicate via the radio. In a perfect world, that increased risk would only apply to you. In the real world though, you are also increasing my risk by taking away a key safety device at non-towered airports.The additional risk that you pose to me and other unrestricted pilots is very small, so I accept it, and don't oppose you being able to fly. I would not oppose regulations requiring additional equipment to modify your radios to allow you to make announcements around airports. Yes this would be a financial burden on a small segment of the pilot population, but it would overall benefit everyone. Safety is the most important thing with aviation, and that is all that really matters to me.Tim

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Deaf pilots... that's interesting... how did you ever pass your FAA medical?It's an interesting topic though.On the hand I suppose so long as you're flying in airspace that doesn't require a radio, it makes no difference from a regulatory point of view.But at the same time, I wonder if a deaf pilot is putting himself at risk because he can't hear the engine sound, etc.VFR flying is mainly about what you sense, what you see, feel and hear.When you apply takeoff power, does the engine sound like it's producing full power? If you're deaf I suppose you could rely on the gauges for that kind of thing, but still...What if the engine is running rough? Sometimes things like that you can only really tell by hearing.-Bryan

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Tim:The problem is that most deaf people cant talk or more realistically, most don't feel comfortable talking, and believe it or not, for many, talking actually creates a problem. A perfect example being that when we were approached by those pilots and I was able to talk, even if I couldn't hear well, they basically accused me of being a dangerous pilot for not talking on the radio while I stood there and talked to them. "Why didn't you make your calls?? Youre talking to me now so why didn't you make the calls?"I don't completely disagree with him, actually... but I guess this more related to truly deaf pilots who cant speak or hear. Another interesting thing though... I asked the guys to their face "So... you say we are dangerous and we should never be allowed to fly... so you think that all the vintage aircraft and the classic aircraft out there with no radios should never be allowed to fly either?" He stammered and hesitated then just to cover his butt "Yes as a matter of fact I do think that!" So in essence... yeah I do agree there are added risks, but we all can always do our part in reducing the risks as much as possible... like intensely searching the pattern and flying by the book... and not flying 300' AGL tight patterns... ;)I think that we don't need stuff to make us speak though, or stuff that will make us accommodate the system because it's hard enough for us as it is. We can't even get towers to use light guns for us... how hard is it to dust off that stupid thing on the wall and aim it out the window at us so we can land/take off? What we need is more pilots remembering that IFR and radios aren't the whole world of flying. Thats why I really don't have any liking for Richard Collins type pilots... guys that are all about IFR flying, towered operations, and basically making it seem like non-towered, NORDO ops are for rednecks out in the boonies. I just think we are relying more and more on radios than we ever needed to in the first place - at least as far as small-town general aviation is concerned. The above story is the perfect example... rolling onto the runway without even looking just because he didn't hear anyone. Who does that? You'd be surprised...I guess it just rubs me the wrong way that we are the ones that have to "change"... Bryan:I got the medical with a "Not valid where radios are required" restriction. Every deaf pilot has this, albeit with alternate versions of the wording.The key word you said there was "sense". Yeah you can pick up some things with your hearing, but really, nothing that you can't pick up with your other senses. We usually know when something's up with the engine, and not because of the gauges. When you train yourself to FEEL the engine and the appropriate performance and know how it should be behaving, its pretty much just as good as your hearing. I've heard a lot about stalls... you can hear it get quiet as you approach a stall - So can we... through the controls. The plane just gets really "quiet" in terms of response... doesn't want to do much of anything that it usually does. It feels "sick". Besides, you should never be getting to the point of a stall except for training anyway. There is only one way you can stall - pulling the stick back too far (for a certain trim condition, that is). If you're hauling back on that stick more than you usually do, then you know you're likely close to or will be getting close to stalling conditions. (Your stick is really an Angle of Attack control and thats all you're truly controlling with it, and with excessive AoA comes a stall. - I don't want to get too deep into that but if you want to know what I mean in detail, pick up a copy of "Stick and Rudder")But you're right though... aside from being silent on the radios, )i.e. not flying out of towered airports or through airspace), we are just like everyone else out there. Honestly I think this is the life, anyway, because I've had experiences with being in controlled airspace with another licensed pilot, as well as using flight following, etc and I gotta tell you, I literally told the other pilot to get us off the radio. I just think it is so annoying that you have to TALK to someone all the time when youre flying because to be frank with you, I took up flying to get away from it all and chatting on the radio half the time isnt getting away from it. We do have to step it up more than "run-of-the-mill" pilots out there because not only do we not have the radios to our advantage to be more aware of our surroundings, but also because we are also more closely criticized and scrutinized by others. For example... if the same near-collision happened as above, but we could hear fine, we just didn't want to make our calls or perhaps we were in a vintage plane with no radio... we would just be yelled at for not making our calls. But no, we are deaf so... whoa we shouldn't even be flying! That's not fair, you know? My buddy Kevin is the safest and best pilot I have ever known... out of all the CFI's I've had and whatnot. And this guy is stone deaf. I guess I just feel kind of slighted because not only do I have this disability to live with in the first place... but sometimes I feel like people think I shouldnt even have wings because of it, when I see and hear worse things than flying deaf

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Thats hilarious.... so they were going to complain about not using radio calls in a untowered airport? I would have told them to show me where in FAR/AIM it says that making radio calls is mandatory... you should ALWAYS use them, but not required to.however, just because you can't hear does not mean you shouldn't make the radio calls... you CAN talk correct? just make the radio calls and say where you are, good enough.

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...and wouldn't it be even more ironic if they had TCAS as well.:9 BTW, I think I still have your number, if you're planning on being in Fresno for X-MAS with the family...I will be there for sure, I'll give you a ring if you're around. Hopefully you don't have to work.:-)

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Todd,I did read your story, but I wasn't there, so I didn't comment on it specifically. I have only heard your side, and have no idea whose fault it was, and if there was even a need to assign any blame to anyone.With that said, I was just commenting on deaf pilots in general. I can see your point about "why should we have to change" to accommodate the rest of the pilot community. My personal feeling is that we are all privileged to fly, and we all have to meet the same minimum standards for health, currency, experience, equipment, etc.... If a person, or group of people have to get waivers in the form of restrictions to operate in the national airspace system, then it is that person or group that is responsible for maintaining the safety of that system. If that means that as a pilot, you need to invest a few hundred, or few thousand dollars in additional equipment, then that should be your burden, and not that of the overwhelming majority. I see it as a personal responsibility type of thing. You do not meet the requirements for a medical certificate. You petition the FAA for a waiver, and receive it. It is now your responsibility to do whatever it takes to keep yourself safe, and your fellow pilots safe. If that means that you end up paying a little more for the privilege, then I feel that it is only fair that the added cost is your burden, and not mine.Don't get me wrong. I am not against deaf people flying. Heck, I've flown with some people that made me wish that I was deaf....lol. I think that people that are hearing impaired can be a safe pilot. I think that technology exists for announcing pattern intentions. Something as simple as a flash voice recorder with a non hearing impaired person saying the words could be used to announce when your 10 miles out, 5 miles out, 2 miles out, and entering the downwind. That alone would go a long way in just letting people know that you are in the area.You raise an interesting question Todd. Thanks for the good conversation.Tim

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>Todd,>>I did read your story, but I wasn't there, so I didn't comment>on it specifically. I have only heard your side, and have no>idea whose fault it was, and if there was even a need to>assign any blame to anyone.>>With that said, I was just commenting on deaf pilots in>general. I can see your point about "why should we have to>change" to accommodate the rest of the pilot community. My>personal feeling is that we are all privileged to fly, and we>all have to meet the same minimum standards for health,>currency, experience, equipment, etc.... If a person, or>group of people have to get waivers in the form of>restrictions to operate in the national airspace system, then>it is that person or group that is responsible for maintaining>the safety of that system. If that means that as a pilot, you>need to invest a few hundred, or few thousand dollars in>additional equipment, then that should be your burden, and not>that of the overwhelming majority. I see it as a personal>responsibility type of thing. You do not meet the>requirements for a medical certificate. You petition the FAA>for a waiver, and receive it. It is now your responsibility>to do whatever it takes to keep yourself safe, and your fellow>pilots safe. If that means that you end up paying a little>more for the privilege, then I feel that it is only fair that>the added cost is your burden, and not mine.>>Don't get me wrong. I am not against deaf people flying. >Heck, I've flown with some people that made me wish that I was>deaf....lol. I think that people that are hearing impaired>can be a safe pilot. I think that technology exists for>announcing pattern intentions. Something as simple as a flash>voice recorder with a non hearing impaired person saying the>words could be used to announce when your 10 miles out, 5>miles out, 2 miles out, and entering the downwind. That alone>would go a long way in just letting people know that you are>in the area.>>You raise an interesting question Todd. Thanks for the good>conversation.>>Tim>When did a radio become required equipment for the kind of airspace he restricts himself to using? He can broadcast his intentions all day long with some kind of device but it won't do any good when the other planes around him don't even have a radio on board.

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