Sunday 19 May 2013 07:12 UTC
This forum is for anything to do with light aviation
Following the microlight crash thread by complete coincidence I was approached recently by someone asking about the legality of a local (to him) pilot flying certain aircraft using a particular type of licence. During the course of that conversation the other person said "In XXXX there are quite a few pilots flying with absolutely no licence whatsoever and have been doing so for years". When I asked him to clarify exactly what he meant he said that these are people who do not have a lapsed medical or licence but have simply never held one in the first place.
I've no reason to doubt him but there's no chance of getting any more specific information (when he said "XXXX" he was referring to an entire county) so approaching the CAA is a non-starter. Putting aside the fact that of course he should be raising the alarm I'm wondering if anyone has ever witnessed a surprise ramp check at club/flying school/private level? (In 21 years of commercial operations I've only been checked twice).
If the story I'm being told is correct then offenders must be able to fly with impunity.
I heard a similar story about Wales. (Not sure of your need for "XXXX".) The teller of the story was reluctant to elaborate as they were quite fond of their family and enjoyed having two knees, ten fingers and other appendages!
They definitely exist, and there are local groupings of unlicenced pilots - although to damn a whole county seems a bit strong.
Generally either they're safe (in which case the licence and medical was irrelevant) or they'll have an accident and it'll get picked up during the accident investigation.
In the meantime, it's no bad thing for clubs and syndicates to check their members, but I tend to view it as somebody's else's problem by and large.
You do sometimes hear of this. I remember a report in the papers many years ago about people flying autogyros from (I think) Davidstow Moor. There were some noise complaints, the CAA investigated and found none of the pilots had either license or training. Their defence was they 'didn't know' they needed a license!
Then there was the guy who designed and built his own aircraft. He too had no license, and when he took off on the first test flight and crashed, the CAA investigated again.
So it seems like these people only get caught out when there's an incident sufficiently serious for the CAA to get involved.
What's an iPad? Do I really care?
The rumour mill periodically points at one or two people. Sometimes its simple maliciousness, usually driven by some grudge or slight - flying seems to be heavily populated by people who want to use the sea of regulations for their own ends.
I am aware of one guy who almost certainly fell into this category - but as far as I know he had been flying for over 20 years and he certainly knew more and was a 'better' pilot than I was at the time. So no, I saw absolutely no reason to write or phone the CAA.
As for people flying illegally - well I suspect well over 25% of the pilots in the UK have flown illegally. That sea of regulations makes it almost inevitable. What about all the 5 year JAR PPLs? What about all the PArt M stuff? It is the easiest thing in the world to commit a technical breach - and that is before you go 'low flying', fly the circuit in the 'wrong direction' and the hundred and one other things which are all notionally illegal.
For that reason alone any action would have to be grossly offensive before I even thought about contacting the authorities.
Shirley there's a marked difference between being in accidental breach of the privileges you've obtained and just not bothering to obtain them at all?
You only have to look at some of the aircraft and helicopters sold on ebay to see that there are obviously people out there buying microlights and some US homebuilt helicopters etc, who don't have any training or licences, but finally chicken out or have a narrow escape and then sell the devices.
Like PeteM I also know one chap who flew illegally for many years. (He no longer flies)
He began quite legally but eventually became completely pi55ed off with all the new crap which came in with JAR and initially suddenly found himself unwittingly in breach of the 90 day rule, and then the next thing he knew his rating had lapsed, (no such thing previously) and then someone told him he had to fly with an instructor and/or examiner to keep it or get it back, and then he thought I cant be **** so why bother then with a medical, and one thing led to another whereby he couldn't put entries in his log book ( simply because he had no valid rating or medical and any entry would have been proof of illegal flying ) and he thus became as he saw it trapped in a mire of illegality he found it impossible to get out of.
I never reported him (always taught as a lad that it was bad manners to snitch) although I found that the most infuriating aspect was all the time, hassle and money he saved himself compared to me.
Surprised he had the ability to get a licence in the first place.
Should we be surprised by this? No! In spite of the fact that anyone with a grain of grey matter would reckon that getting off the ground, legally or illegally, carries some risk, some are prepared to take that risk, but they generally present very little risk to the rest of the population.
On the other hand it's believed that some 10%+ of the drivers on the road have never passed a test, and a much larger percentage than that have no third party insurance! Their opportunities (or likelyhood) of killing people is vastly greater than any illegal "pilot".
Now that really worries me much more!
Not to say, of course that non-licensed / trained "pilots" should not be stopped because they should be; for their transgressions can / will damage the reputation and opportunities of all those who do things properly.
It's easy to care, hard to change things.
I heard a story about 12 years ago regarding someone who registered a VP1 then built and flew it without further reference to the (then) PFA and (IIRC) without a current licence or medical. One day he force-landed out of fuel and, when pushing his aircraft, collapsed and died of a heart attack! Everything then came into the open and the aircraft was deliberately burned.
One would think that this is less likely these days when every commercial airfield has software that tells them who the registered owner is, etc. You would get rumbled pretty quickly unless you only ever flew to private strips.
Wilbur Wright, to name names.
Having found learning to fly bloody difficult, I think that anybody who can teach themself and survive is probably a better pilot than I am. Certainly those tea tax dodgers over there allow their ultralights to be flown by unlicenced pilots. On the other hand, I've been brainwashed into believing that everybody should pay their dues so yes, I think somebody should turn them in.
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