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Ramp Checks and Pancake Breakfasts...A Cause of Indigestion?

WindOnHisNose

BENEFACTOR
Lino Lakes MN (MY18)
For those of you who are following the MN Pilots Association website (www.mnpilots.org), you will have seen a note I provided on my thoughts about the FAA doing ramp checks at local Flyins.

This was spawned by the presence of an FAA inspector at the Wadena, MN, Flyin. He ramp checked two Medivac helicopter pilots, but stayed away (as far as I know) from ramp checking any of the general avation aircraft. Here is a photo of the inspector...see if you can predict which fellow is the inspector...
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It is my feeling that the mere presence of FAA inspectors at Flyins such as this have a dampening effect on the attendance of pilots at these flyins. This is despite the fact that most, if not all of the pilots flying in have their paperwork in order. I am concerned that the general feeling is (warranted or not), just like our annuals on our super cubs, if the inspector looks hard enough he will find something wrong.

Personally, I have been ramp checked once...at a pancake breakfast at a metropolitan airport...and it went fine. I have all the documents in order, I have nothing to hide. This not withstanding, I know my sphincter is tight when I know a ramp check is likely...and I fly 250 hours per year. You look at the average pilot who flies his J3 or his Champ 20-30 hours a year out in rural MN (staying as far away from a control tower as he can) and you throw in the chance to have a ramp check and first thing we will notice is that that pilot will not be attending next years pancake flyin.

I have addressed this in my post on mnpilots.org, but would appreciate feedback and your thoughts on this issue.

Thank you.

Randy
 

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In similar response to your FB post, we all carry the required paperwork because we know we have to produce it if checked. If seeing an FAA guy/gal walking around is too intimidating to some pilots and keeps them away from meeting up with some really great friends and eating great chow, then too bad, stay home and miss out.

I liken it to grain haulers who are constantly getting stopped by the DOT around here and the only pissed off drivers are the ones who aren't hauling an honest load in a safe truck. The guys who take care of their equipment and stay in the load limits are not afraid to talk to the enforcement officer. That's how I would regard a ramp check.
 
AS much as I hate to admit I agree with Brenda, (who owns a 150 cessna, so therefore as suspect as MrBigE), there really is something to be said that pilots should not be afraid...

However, part of the problem stems from individual inspectors taking it as their mission to make everyone safe. Their ten years in the military, one of which was working on on polishing the handle of the hanger door, the others in supply, has made said inspectors the foundation of aviation safety.

Now they want to inflict their 'safety' upon others.

IF the FAA would come to these fly-ins and have a small table off to the side with some coffee, doughnuts and smiles, answer questions, and offer courtesy inspections to pilots on request with the understanding that it is for education only, it could work.

The coast guard aux. does these type inspections. They do not write violations, just a list of things folks need to be legal. The CG leaves and lets the boat owner get himself squared away on his own time.

The FAA inspection might find that Brenda did not do her Weight and Balance correctly, (maybe used the standard 170 lbs for her weight, not the true 120), so they could simply say "here is an error that should be corrected". No record of said discussion recorded or documented. When planes depart the FAA should ignore it. If you don't have the correct paperwork, they can figure you had time for it to be emailed to you before departure, no big deal.

But, today, we don't get this type of cooperation. If we did, folks would not be so nervous around the FAA.
 
For those of you who are following the MN Pilots Association website (www.mnpilots.org), you will have seen a note I provided on my thoughts about the FAA doing ramp checks at local Flyins.

This was spawned by the presence of an FAA inspector at the Wadena, MN, Flyin. He ramp checked two Medivac helicopter pilots, but stayed away (as far as I know) from ramp checking any of the general avation aircraft. Here is a photo of the inspector...see if you can predict which fellow is the inspector...
View attachment 11999
It is my feeling that the mere presence of FAA inspectors at Flyins such as this have a dampening effect on the attendance of pilots at these flyins. This is despite the fact that most, if not all of the pilots flying in have their paperwork in order. I am concerned that the general feeling is (warranted or not), just like our annuals on our super cubs, if the inspector looks hard enough he will find something wrong.

Personally, I have been ramp checked once...at a pancake breakfast at a metropolitan airport...and it went fine. I have all the documents in order, I have nothing to hide. This not withstanding, I know my sphincter is tight when I know a ramp check is likely...and I fly 250 hours per year. You look at the average pilot who flies his J3 or his Champ 20-30 hours a year out in rural MN (staying as far away from a control tower as he can) and you throw in the chance to have a ramp check and first thing we will notice is that that pilot will not be attending next years pancake flyin.

I have addressed this in my post on mnpilots.org, but would appreciate feedback and your thoughts on this issue.

Thank you.

Randy


I have read field directive memos from the FAA head shed that orders that no direct targeting of flyins will happen. I would think that a few comments to the AOPA might be in order from those of you who have experienced ramp checks at flyins.
 
No problem Randy I already have a big bulls eye on my back.
 
Really George? You put a woman's weight on the internet? My God man, what were you thinking?
 
We are safe from inspection here on Long Island. No overtime authorized so the boys and girls stay home on the weekends. In 45 years I have been ramp checked three times with no issues. Well, except for the guy who didnt know you could fly a J3 using a driver license as a medical but I gave him a pass because Sport Pilot had only been in effect for five years and he had not had the opportunity to be trained on it yet. :)

Rich
 
My instrument check ride was with the FAA because of those insufficient fund notices from my bank. The ride is free.

We had a great time it took three Inspectors and (7) hours to complete. There was one squawk, the fuel tank placard was fading ( made a new label ). While I was answering questions, they had (3) maintenance inpectors going into my aircraft's logs and opening the airplane.

I was treated well, but I admit it is not easy. One of the inspectors was from Switzerland (naturalized US citizen) , so I gave him the secret Swiss hand shake and he signed the license.
 
IF the FAA would come to these fly-ins and have a small table off to the side with some coffee, doughnuts and smiles, answer questions, and offer courtesy inspections to pilots on request with the understanding that it is for education only, it could work.

The coast guard aux. does these type inspections. They do not write violations, just a list of things folks need to be legal. The CG leaves and lets the boat owner get himself squared away on his own time.

That's it! An FAA Auxiliary! Where do I sign up? :)
 
In similar response to your FB post, we all carry the required paperwork because we know we have to produce it if checked. If seeing an FAA guy/gal walking around is too intimidating to some pilots and keeps them away from meeting up with some really great friends and eating great chow, then too bad, stay home and miss out.

I liken it to grain haulers who are constantly getting stopped by the DOT around here and the only pissed off drivers are the ones who aren't hauling an honest load in a safe truck. The guys who take care of their equipment and stay in the load limits are not afraid to talk to the enforcement officer. That's how I would regard a ramp check.
Around here the DOT checks are nothing but harrassment and have nothing to do with "safety" They are looking for money and chicken sh** tickets are the way they do it. The latest, you get a ticket if your windshield washer is outof fluid.
 
I was "ramped" once (or twice) on the hiway, he gave me a warning for going too fast, and I didn't have my license... he said bring it into the detachment & all was fine. Sometimes you run into a cop with some common sense & courtesy. I've been lucky w/cops (so far). I had issues with TC (Canuck FAA) & was helped out & not fined. If you drive, hunt, scuba dive, etc. without your paperwork you (usually) get ha$$led, right? Why is flying any different? +2 for Brenda. When you were a young'un you were taught to Be Prepared! :)
 
I have talked many times with the FAA and they never did anything that was overly harsh. The fuel placard was the only time being grounded. And that was for five minutes. Walk a mile in their shoes the world may look different?

One time I called in "minimum fuel" in CLASS B to ATC. FAA called me, after landing, and asked what happened? The airplane I was flying was new and I wasn't sure of the fuel needed for the lengthy approach so I asked for "minimum fuel". No big deal, they said good job.
 
AS much as I hate to admit I agree with Brenda, (who owns a 150 cessna, so therefore as suspect as MrBigE), there really is something to be said that pilots should not be afraid...
George, I don't see in your post that you agree with Brenda, actually. We are in agreement that we should not be "afraid" of a ramp check, as long as our paperwork is in order and our aircraft is in airworthy condition (no GoPro mounts, no "field" mods that we think are no big deal, etc), we are within the envelope for weight and balance, and as long as we do not demonstrate unsafe flying practices (low passes, etc). It isn't just a matter of clean paperwork, in fact, is it? We are not talking about just an "honest load" here (sorry Brenda)...there are things left for interpretation, in the mind of the inspector. A rather poignant example is what happened to Bob Hoover. Place that inspector at New Holstein, or at Gaston's, etc, and see what effect that has on the the event.

I raised this issue as a reminder, of sorts, partly to remind ourselves to have all the paperwork straight so that we don't inadvertently screw up a ramp check (medical expired, for example) and have a problem. I stand by my concern that the presentation of the FAA at Flyins might discourage some really good, safe and timid people from participating. I take exception to the comment that "If seeing an FAA guy/gal walking around is too intimidating to some pilots and keeps them away from meeting up with some really great friends and eating great chow, then too bad, stay home and miss out." The FAA can achieve their goal without having this kind of impact, imho.

Randy
 
Perhaps a pilot "association" should approach the FAA and encourage their presence at a morning get together to interract and provide courtesy inspections. Associations are usually chartered to promote a healthy environment for all parties. Be proactive. Consolidate and unite through fellowship and education.

Or sit around and bitch, because that's what old men do.
 
Perhaps a pilot "association" should approach the FAA and encourage their presence at a morning get together to interract and provide courtesy inspections. Associations are usually chartered to promote a healthy environment for all parties. Be proactive. Consolidate and unite through fellowship and education.

Or sit around and bitch, because that's what old men do.

That is exactly what our pilot association has arranged...a meeting with members of the FSDO team who I know well and who I greatly respect. We intend to be proactive, and while we are certainly old men, we don't care to sit around all that much:)
 
There was a program called PACE which I used to get my airplane ( and pilot skills ) inspected with out fear of punishments. I think it was discontinued.
 
Randy,
Although you are the one who asked for feedback and thoughts and then take issue with my less-than-touchy-feely comment, I still stand by the meaning behind it. I know that my paperwork and load references are not all-inclusive of what inspectors look at, but those were my thoughts. I don't worry about much else and am not speaking for others. Oddly enough, I could be classified as one of those timid pilots, but if I want to go to a fly-in or anywhere else, I get my butt in the plane and make my way there. If I give in to the fear of 'what if', I stay home and miss out. That's the reality.


Although I have heard about many ramp checks gone bad, I have also heard of many positive interactions. My first impression after reading your initial post was that this is a non-issue that's being made into an issue, but many good points have been posted since and I appreciate all input.


George, no offense taken. I actually weigh 155 lbs and the snack bag I carry weighs about 15 lbs... :)
 
It is also my understanding that FAA policy is to NOT bother/ramp check flyin's, period.
 
With the sequester, I am told by friends in the FAA as well as inspectors I encounter on the job that they have no time for ramp checks on GA. In fact the other day I called the local FSDO to set up a 91.146 letter for a charity fundraiser. I described what I was planning and told him I had a copy of the IRS 501 authorization as well as CEO letter. The inspector involved said, "Call you back in a half hour". Half hour later the phone rang and he said, "Just do it, we don't have time to write these up, my name is "Smit"h and my ID is xxxx if anyone asks you." I said, does your maintenance guys want to look at the airplane? He said, "Nope you are good to go." That interaction right there should tell you what is going on.
 
Over the years, I have been ramp checked about 6 times (not including FAA checkrides where they go through everything anyway). Never had a problem so far because all the paperwork has always been correct. I have also found that most times, they "ask" if they can do a ramp check. The latest time was in Chili. An FAA inspector was vacationing to see his family (he was from there) and saw us on the ramp. We were fueling and didn't have any passengers around yet. He came on board, said he was "from the FAA and would like to ramp check us if we had time". After I stopped laughing at him (thinking this was all a joke) he said "no, really, I am from the FAA". We all had a good laugh and he did the check. He indicated the the FAA had been on him to do ramp checks when he was out of the country. One of the key items that they are looking for (corporate aircraft anyway) is the fire extinguisher date. If it isn't current, you are in trouble. I don't know if that is an issue in cubs with extinguishers since they are not required equipment but it is something to consider.
 
From an EAA document on ramp checks, quoting FAA "guidance outlined in FAA Order 8900.1. Specifically, this guidance is found in Volume 6, Chapter 11, Section 10."

"Under no circumstances should these gatherings be targeted for a blanket sweep inspection of spectator airmen and aircraft.
EAA Note: This means the FAA ASI’s are prohibited from conducting ramps checks on aircraft whose pilots fly into an event simply to observe the event, to enjoy a pancake breakfast, etc. That is, unless the FAA ASI observes a safety issue that needs to be corrected.

3) The scope of surveillance conducted on aviation event performers and their aircraft will be determined by the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) manager.
EAA Note: While this statement gives the FSDO manager ramp check flexibility, there is another section of 8900.1 that clearly states “no regional supplements to aviation event policy are permitted.” This means the FSDO manager cannot exceed the guidance in this document."

19 out of 20 FAA inspectors really try to follow the rules and guidance. It's the 1 out of 20 that you have to worry about. There is no reason to live in fear of the FAA, but there is no reason to seek out risk, either.
 
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19 out of 20 FAA inspectors really try to follow the rules and guidance. It's the 1 out of 20 that you have to worry about. There is no reason to live in fear of the FAA, but there is no reason to seek out risk, either.

Well said. I genuinely like most of the folks at our FSDO office. They are good guys. But I have also run across that oddball 1 in 20 who went out of his way to make things difficult for me by choosing to interpret his handbook that interprets the FARs in a rather odd fashion. He's long gone now, but left me with a rather bad distrust of the whole lot of those that I don't know.

-CubBuilder
 
I communicate with and deal with multiple governmental agencies (and governments) on a regular basis (hell, I speak, read and am certified to translate beauricrat) yet but there is a fear with the FAA I think because flying is a passion for most of us and the thought of an agency finding something wrong with how we do it is frightening... Doctors learn to deal with "whitecoatitis" and with the FAA I think we (many of us) have "clipboarditis." Myself included, current example I have an upcoming need to meet with the OKC FSDO about a project and the office at the airport...would be an easy flight yet I'm hesitant.
 
I have an upcoming need to meet with the OKC FSDO about a project and the office at the airport...would be an easy flight yet I'm hesitant.

Take SteveE with you to OKC. In case there's trouble with the feds, you could probably turn him in for a bounty...:lol:
 
I have been ramped more than 20 times over the years. IMHO its more like 4 out of 20. And they can make life misabrle. Worst for me was being ramped & cited on the Happy River & having certificate on probation for a year. There were two of them on snowmachines & their word against 1.

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