On October 19, 2017, Dr. William Pugh, President of the Monroe County Board of Aviation, oversaw the presentation of FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to yours truly at a meeting hosted by the Bloomington, Indiana, Experimental Aircraft Association. Qualifications for the award were having been an active licensed pilot for 50-years and not having had an aircraft accident during that period. Three letters of recommendation from other licensed pilots to the Federal Aviation Administration initiated the recognition.
I was pleased to receive the award, but it reminded me of one other certification. A few years earlier I had attended a meeting of the Indianapolis Aero Club. The speakers that evening were two gentlemen who had flown a small, single engine, general aviation airplane around the world. Having installed extra fuel tanks in the plane, the men described the hours spent in the air crossing oceans and desserts in between landings for additional fuel and refreshment. Someone in the audience that night asked the question, “Wasn’t that incredibly dangerous?”
“Well, you see,” replied one of the speakers, “we are certified alcoholics.”
“What!,” the audience gawked, waiting for a further explanation.
“Yes,” the speaker continued. “We had learned that one of the Far East countries we planned to visit did not allow the consumption of alcohol unless you had a prescription from a doctor. Well, we had a doctor friend who was more than happy to write a letter verifying our need for spirits. So, you see, we are certified alcoholics.”
Looking at my Master Pilot Award, the next time the cashier at the grocery asks for ID when I buy a six pack, I’m going to show her my FAA document. I am a certified old person!