By Howard Deevers
A student of mine went to Ryan Airport for his Private Pilot check ride. The date was 9/11/2001. He arrived for his appointment at 8 AM sharp, and by 9 AM Tucson Time, we all knew of the airplanes that flew into the buildings in New York. The airspace was shut down by the National Security Council. All airplanes were instructed to land as soon as practical, and airplanes already in route to the US were either diverted to other locations or turned back.
My student called me from Ryan Airport. He said that the airspace was shut down. The DPE said that they would do the check ride the next day. Well, that didn't happen either. In fact, aviation was shut down in the U S everywhere, with passengers stranded many miles from their homes or work locations, not knowing when they might travel again.
Gradually, the airlines were allowed to fly again, but with new security measures in place immediately. General Aviation was not so lucky. It was many weeks before General Aviation was allowed back into the skies, and then only IFR flights. Gradually VFR flights were permitted, also. Check rides were allowed on a limited basis. It took a while, but eventually aviation returned to the “new normal.”
Fast forward to 2020: are we facing another “new normal?” This time the airlines are barely flying, but General Aviation is still in the air. If there is anywhere to go, that is. Some aviation training is still ongoing, but some has stopped. It is hard to “social distance” in a small aircraft.
If you are flying, do your best to make sure everything is clean and that you stay safe.
Only a fraction of the passenger traffic is still using air travel. General Aviation has distinct advantages this time, but we must be careful. Now is the time for GA to make a good impression, and I hope we do.
EAA made it official: AirVenture 2020 is officially canceled. Many of us expected this, but with a hope that by July things might be back to “normal.” Now, we just start looking forward to 2021. If that takes place, it should be the greatest event in General Aviation.
From many of the articles I have read about the changes in airline travel, it doesn't look appealing, and most certainly will be more expensive. That makes flying your own airplane a great advantage over the Airlines. Maybe we will see a resurgence in GA flying like back in the 70's.
If you are flying your own airplane to another state, be sure that you will not be required to quarantine for 14 days after your arrival. If just stopping for fuel, that will be all right, but the fear that you could bring the virus into that area might make demands of you that you did not expect. Check ahead. Be safe. An aviation accident during this time will likely get even more unwanted media attention than before.