Who among the pilot population wouldn’t want to get drunk at the local flight standards district office (FSDO) while the FAA picks up the tab?
It sounds incredible; however, the FAA is giving several lucky volunteers in each region the chance to help train inspectors in recognizing impaired pilots, by drinking a lot. This idea is neither new nor original – since the FAA would struggle with both of those – and comes from police departments around the country engaging in similar training.
Aviation Daily caught up with Brandon while he was standing in line at the Van Nuys FSDO to sign up for the program.
A newly minted flight instructor, Brandon is a recent graduate of a well known aviation college.
Aviation Daily: “Brandon, first tell us about your aviation background and how you obtained your ratings.”
Brandon: “I went to The Academy in Northeast Florida and graduated with my CFII, then was offered an amazing job teaching at the premier flight school at Van Nuys Airport.”
Aviation Daily: “Isn’t the Air Force Academy in Colorado?”
Brandon: “Oh, sorry, it’s so pedestrian to call our school a college, so we call it The Academy. Colleges have parties, drinking, fraternities, and girls who like guys. We focus on the the pursuit of excellence in aviation.”
Aviation Daily: “Thank you for the clarification… interesting and weird as it was. Why are you signing up for this program?”
Brandon: “Truth be told, the one thing we didn’t learn at The Academy was about alcohol use. Sure, they made us study 14 CFR 91.17, which everyone knows as the 8 hour bottle to throttle rule, but I really missed out on the experience college kids get at real universities – like how to party all night and still function in the morning. All we had at The Academy was a sim lab. If you do the math, the latest we could have drank was midnight. Yeah, you are technically still drunk the next morning when you show up to pre-flight the plane, but totally legal to go wheels up at 8:00 am.
Aviation Daily: “Please continue…”
Brandon: “When I heard this program was helping FAA inspectors recognize impaired pilots, something woke inside me. It’s not that I want to help the FAA, but I really need to know how to get past them in a pinch. You read about all these good pilots getting busted, so I really need to know how to avoid that.”
According to Mary Pritchard, FAA Director of Training, “If this program is a success we will definitely be expanding the list of substances used on test subjects. With all of the marijuana legalization going on across the country right now, its use by pilots is a big concern, so that one is high on our list.”
Anyone, including non-pilots, interested in becoming a participant in one of these programs should call their local FAA FSDO. A list of offices can be found on the FAA website: FSDO Offices