Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


The FAA Is Always Right

February 16, 1979

The community college I was employed by as a flight instuctor in their Aviation degree program wished me to be designated as their Assistant Chief Flight Instructor. This required an appointment with the local Flight Standards District Office for an oral exam and a flight check ride. The FAA examiner with whom I was scheduled was notorious as an absolute asshole. He was also notorious for pulling a simulated engine failure at a certain location during the flight test.

The oral exam was pretty rocky. We had an acrimonious disagreement over how to determine the proper approach speed for a short-field approach and landing. Apparently this guy was a non-deviant-from-textbook type and took no account for the actual situation and conditions. Maybe he had no belief in teaching students to think for themselves. Always dangerous in the eyes of the feds? In the end I had to relent and say OK, whatever you say, so we could get on with the flight test.

During the flight test he pulled the expected simulated engine failure at the expected location and I immediately spotted the small grass strip directly below and set up for a perfect power-off approach and landing to it. After that maneuver he just asked me to return to the airport and then signed me off for my Ass't Chief CFI designation. The lesson learned was to not debate with the FAA, just to agree with them, and then go out into the real world and do what's necessary to safely accomplish the mission. During my flight career I discovered that this guy was the rare exception and not the rule when it comes to FAA types. I hope that still holds today.



References for Non-Pilots: