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RCP_0709_p08-15:Hangar Talk 8/12/09 12:23 PM Page 9
defense, and stated that, in effect, he had might have occurred, and provided the un- to make a subtle point. Here, videotaping
changed the way he made decisions and derstated analysis that the pilot’s “atten- a sex act in the cockpit of a helicopter
had “learned his lesson” from another in- tion was not devoted sufficiently to the act seems an obvious lack of judgment.
cident, subsequent to the videotaped of flying the aircraft.” The decision also There is little question the FAA took the
flight, where he had flown an unairwor- refers to a long line of precedent in both appropriate action. What may not have
thy aircraft and had his license suspended. its own decisions and federal court deci- been so obvious, however, is that you can
The administrative law judge found the sions that recognize the potential for dan- be careless or reckless without causing a
alleged incident to be a clear case of ger is enough to violate the careless and mishap. Here, there was no actual
grossly careless and reckless operation, and reckless standard. Proof of actual danger mishap. But because of his “act,” this
revoked the pilot’s airman certification. On is not a requirement. bold pilot has likely lost his chance at ever
appeal, the pilot argued his access to the Sometimes it takes an obvious action becoming an old pilot.

controls was not restricted, and pointed out
the aircraft remained under control during
the entire incident. Thus, one of the main Hunter Old is a litigation partner with the southeastern Virginia law firm
issues on appeal was whether the prospect of Kaufman & Canoles, P.C. and represents aviation
of disaster is enough to be careless and businesses, pilots, and mechanics. He lives in
reckless, even when there was no actual Williamsburg with his wife, two kids, and Australian
mishap or imminent danger. Shepherd. He is licensed as a commercial helicopter pilot
The NTSB answered this question with and flew both UH-1s and CH-47s with the U.S. Army
a resounding yes. Although the pilot Reserves before reluctantly becoming a full-time civilian in
pointed out his aircraft never was in dan- 2005. Hunter also is a member of the Virginia Helicopter
ger of hitting the ground or going out of Association, the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association, and the
control, and the videotape presumably NTSB Bar Association and is a panel attorney for the
supported his position, the NTSB detailed AOPA Legal Services Plan.
a parade of horrible consequences that • July 2009 9
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