For the past eleven Administrator/Deputy Administrator teams, at least one of the occupants of those adjoining offices was a pilot. The twelfth team included a test pilot and a commercial captain. Until recently the two most senior executives were not qualified to fly a plane. It is urban legend that in order to make the decisions about aviation safety a personal knowledge of the cockpit is useful, if not imperative. That “deficiency” is no longer applicable.
AOPA reports (it is always on top of the aviation news) that Michael Whittaker, Deputy Administrator and Chief NextGen Officer, has earned his pilot’s license! He earned his stripe on a flight in October when he flew his checkride at Easton, Maryland, nearby his training base at Freeway Airport. To add to the degree of his difficulty, most of his instructor time began within the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area.
The reporter found that the Deputy’s education was of value, as exemplified by the insights in this quote:
“…Whitaker said he has a broader view of the environment of flying than most people do. But that doesn’t mean training was easy. Whitaker said the sheer volume of information to learn was a challenge, as was learning old technologies he knew he wouldn’t have to use very much after earning his certificate given the flight planning assistance that technologies like apps can provide.”
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