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Old 02-06-2013, 10:27 AM
terrykohler terrykohler is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,044
Default Grounded (after 42 years)! What Would You Miss?

This past week, in preparation for foot surgery, I had to take a complete physical, including stress test. Physical - good. Blood work - good. Stress test - good. No, wait, you need to come in.
Next thing I know, I'm scheduled for a same day cath. Semi-coherent on the table, I hear the cardiologist say "Give me a stent, size xxx".
Shamefully, the first thing crossing my mind wasn't my wife, my family, or my business - it was the airplane. How long will I be down? What do I need to do (not for me, but for the FAA)?
I quickly learned that I'm grounded for a minimum of 6 months (automatic with just about any cardio issue). At that point, more testing and lots of paperwork to the FAA will determine my future.
In the meantime, I'm moving to add fellow RVers and best friends Ted Gauthier and Dave Pohl, as well as my brother Mike, as named insured for N323TP - they've all got time with her already, and I'm good in the right seat.
What will I miss?
Long cross country flights with my wife to visit our daughters and their families in Texas and California, as well as trips to the family camp on the shores of Lake Superior. Perhaps just as much, I know I'll miss the occasional descent into the crud for a precision approach - there's something really satisfying about breaking out a few hundred feet above the ground with the approach lights leading you in. I'm also going to miss the occasional/frequent 15-20 minute solo "therapy" flights that Doug Reeves always talks about.
As far as rehab, I'm highly motivated. Not even thinking about an end to many years in the air. In the meantime, What Would You Miss?

Terry, CFI
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:43 AM
Brantel's Avatar
Brantel Brantel is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Newport, TN
Posts: 7,513

Been there done that!

Good news is that I am on my 4th year with a SI medical. It takes a while to get thru the process and each year is a pain in the rear but it is worth it!

Sounds like you have a good pool of qualified buddies that can help you out. That will help a ton!

I was in the middle of the final stages of my RV7 build when I was laying on that table. Like you, the first thing I thought of was that I would never get to fly my project. I figured that was history. Glad I was wrong!
Brantel (Brian Chesteen),
Check out my RV-10 builder's BLOG
RV-10, #41942, N?????, Project Sold
RV-7/TU, #72823, N159SB
Lyc. O-360 carbed, HARTZELL BA CS Prop, Dual P-MAGs, Dual Garmin G3X Touch
Track N159SB (KK4LIF)
Like EAA Chapter 1494 on Facebook
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:47 AM
N546RV's Avatar
N546RV N546RV is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Brookshire, TX
Posts: 1,160

Sort of interesting that this gets posted today, of all days. I'm kind of having a personal fitness wake-up call right now, and this just helps to drive it home...somehow I'd never really thought of it in terms of flying, but it would kind of suck to finish this plane in a couple years but find myself with health problems keeping me from enjoying it.

My story is far less dramatic. It started sort of benignly...I woke up sometime in the middle of Monday night and found the other side of the bed empty. I added some recon time to a bathroom trip and found Josie sleeping on a couch in another room. The next morning, I learned that my snoring had become loud enough to actually drive her out of the room because she couldn't sleep.

We talked about it some more this morning before I left for work. (she did actually stay in the bed all night this time) Somewhere along the way, she casually mentioned the strange noises I made, and that sometimes I'd stop snoring for a few seconds, only to abruptly fire back up again. Oh ****. I've seen this before in my brother.

Sleep apnea.

In that moment, everything came together for me...feeling low-energy at work all day. Difficulty concentrating at work sometimes. Coming home from work and feeling tired enough to take a nap.

I've been in that "I really should work on losing some weight" mode for a few months now...just never actually have done anything about it. Time for that to change.

Terry, here's hoping you get yourself back in the air soon. I hope you don't mind me piggybacking off your story with another health problem tale.
-8 fuselage in progress (remember when I thought the wing kit had a lot of parts? HAHAHAHAHA)
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Old 02-06-2013, 12:52 PM
gasman gasman is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Sonoma County
Posts: 4,134

If you want to keep flying your RV...........

And a useful book........ "It starts with food"
VAF #897 Warren Moretti
2020 =VAF= Dues PAID
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:44 PM
LarryT LarryT is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Battle Ground, WA
Posts: 426
Default Pilot incapacitation

Terry - my hope and prayer is for your speedy recovery.

I, too, have an SI medical (not for a heart related issue), despite the fact that my treating physician thinks "I'm healthy as a horse."

Since the purported purpose of the medical exam is to prevent "sudden" pilot incapacitation", yesterday for my own amusement, I researched the FAA database for accidents where the probable cause was "pilot incapacitation."

From 2000 - 2009 there were fifteen accidents listed, however one was miscategorized. The other 14 were all fatals. Thankfully only two of the flights had passengers. None of the accidents resulted in injuries to individuals on the ground.

3 of the 14 were pilot choices: flying after a heart bypass w/o a medical; fatigue; extremely high dose of sedatives.

Of the remaining 11, 10 were heart attacks and one was undetected brain cancer. In most cases, the FAA was unable to determine if the incident pilot succumbed to the heart attack or the ground impact. It does seem that heart attacks are the primary concern.

Looking through another FAA database, there were ~ 220M general aviation flight hours accrued in the same time period. If the average flight is 2.2 hours (to make the math easy), then there were 100M general aviation flights from 2000 -2009.

Is "sudden incapacitation" really a problem? It occurred approximately 1 out of every 9.1M flights based on the above crude calculations. In any one year your chances of being struck by lightning are about 40x greater.

There are two ways to look at this:

1. AMEs are doing an incredible job screening out "at risk" pilots.
2. There is no problem.

Larry Tompkins
N544WB -6A
W52 Battle Ground, WA
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:29 PM
TerryWighs TerryWighs is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Posts: 315

Wishing you the very best in your recovery, and returning to the skies...
RV-8 builder..."Reindeer Man"
Fairbanks, Alaska
empennage done
Wings done
Fuselage kit 99.9% done
Firewall Forward 35% done 🙈
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:00 PM
gerrychuck gerrychuck is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
Posts: 555

I hear ya, Terry; I had emergency surgery to replace my mitral valve 3 months ago. I don't remember this (Versed is one powerful memory eraser) but apparently when I woke up and was coherent enough to understand that I had just had open heart surgery, the first thing I did was to trace "F" "L" "Y" "?" on her hand (still on the ventilator, so I couldn't talk). Clearly we were sick people long before our hearts started giving trouble!

Hopefully my RCAF flight instructor son will get his paperwork done for his civilian license pretty quick so I can get back in the air; his normal flying position is right hand on the stick and left on the throttle, so he is a natural for the right seat.

I've tried really hard not to focus on what I would miss if I can't get my medical back. I'd rather concentrate on doing what I can do requalify for now. Having said that, if I'm not successful, I will go out on a high; my last year of flying was my best in the 25 years I've been aviating. I got to do formation training with Snowbirds and Hornet drivers, got to learn how to do a few aeros, got to experience the pride of getting "shown how it's done" in formation flight by my newly-winged son, and most of all had a year of flying my RV6A, the coolest, most exciting and challenging plane I've ever had the privilege of strapping into!
Gerry Julian
Moose Jaw Saskatchewan
RV6A "Second Wind" C-GERZ (born N242UL)
O-360 A1A, Sensenich FP prop

Those who think any system is foolproof greatly underestimate the ingenuity of fools
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:38 AM
woodmanrog's Avatar
woodmanrog woodmanrog is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 781

I hang out with a bunch of guys who have lost thier medicals and no longer are able to fly as PIC. The thing that would be missed most, in my opinion, is the getting together with friends and telling airplane stories and lies. All of these guys are able to jump in any number of aircraft and fly right seat as there are lots of us who will take any one of them up for rides. But for some reason, they seem very content to attend meetings, hang out at the airport and go to lunch. The people are what make flying the best after you've flown for 30 or 40 years.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:14 AM
DGlaeser DGlaeser is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Rochester Hills, MI
Posts: 913
Default Not the end!


I am also on a cardiac SI. As Brantel noted, it is a pain, but far better than the alternative - kinda like getting old in general.
You can even instruct without your medical, as long as you don't have to be PIC.
You will soon become friends with Dr. Pinnell who will help you get back in the air.
Dennis Glaeser CFII
Rochester Hills, MI
RV-7A - Eggenfellner H6, GRT Sport ES, EIS4000, 300XL, SL30, TT Gemini, PMA6000, AK950L, GT320,
uAvionixEcho ADSB in/out with GRT Safe Fly GPS
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:45 AM
TomVal's Avatar
TomVal TomVal is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: SC & CA
Posts: 907
Default Interim Activities...

Originally Posted by terrykohler View Post
...As far as rehab, I'm highly motivated. Not even thinking about an end to many years in the air. In the meantime, What Would You Miss?

Terry, CFI

During your transition between the insertion of a stent and the receipt of your Special Issuance medical certificate, your 42 years of aviation experience has much to offer in the form of mentorship to others. Some programs come to mind:

• EAA or Van’s builders groups
• Eagle Nest projects
• Volunteer teaching a ground school
• Getting involved with the Navy League aviation cadet program
• Working with local colleges or university ROTC programs assisting cadets headed for pilot training. Contact me on this one if interested.
• Getting involved with the Virtual Flight Academy, This is a program that has been under development since 1995. It would be a great activity for any of over-the-hill aviators.
• Commemorative Air Force Activities, Preservation of WWII aircraft, history, and education for the general public.

I too am somewhat in a similar situation as you although for different reasons. My surgery is scheduled for next week. I’ve been aviating since 1966. These past few years I have been aviating less and “BS-ing” more. I am enjoying the mentorship role…almost as much as flying.

Wishing you a speedy return to the left seat.

Best Regards,

Knowledge transfer in progress administered by Warren Thomas of the CAF, Air Group One, San Diego.


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Tom Valenzia
RV8 (Sold)
RV12 Jabiru 2200 Powered (Sold)
Dues contributor since 2007

Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself...Anonymous

Last edited by TomVal : 02-07-2013 at 10:52 AM.
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