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When Does It End?

Ian Brown, EAA 657159; Editor, Bits and Pieces; Washago, Ontario


December 2023 – As you will read in the article about Hoppy Hopkinson, some of us pilots reach an early end. We all know that aviation is risky, but most of us get away with it for many years, despite our occasional “incidents.”

How about when we come to the end of our flying days? How do we know? I’ll be 75 next week and on medication for high blood pressure for life, and pain medication for my aging spine. As a pilot, I think I’m still okay, but here’s the question — how do you know when to stop? My short-term memory isn’t what it used to be. I meet someone new, and five minutes after they’ve told me their name, it’s gone. What’s the difference between someone’s name and what the air traffic controller asked you to do? Perhaps it would be rude to write down a new person’s name, but it’s okay to write down what ATC said, if your cockpit is organized. Maybe I meet too many new faces, or maybe I need more sleep. How about you? What are the parameters that would cause you to say, “I think it’s time I quit?”

One factor that springs to mind is that the less we fly the more each flight costs us. I used to be a 40-ish hour per year pilot. Now it’s more like 15. That means my flying hours cost three times as much for the annual costs, repairs, maintenance, hangar fees, insurance, and the like. At $3,000 for insurance, my flights now cost $200 per flight hour for just that one item. Plus, flying less often results in less familiarity, and bigger risks.

One of the best pilots where I learned to fly in Guelph, Ontario, was still flying at 85 and managed to control his bird and grease his landings every time on the more difficult of the two runways, shorter, with a treed approach. So, if you’re reading this, I’d really love some feedback on your personal experience with this. In fact, I’d love someone to write an article if they just made the decision and how they got there.

Thanks to Michael, Mike, Scott, Bob, John, and Raquel this month for their contributions. They go out of their way to provide the content for this newsletter, and maybe it’s time for YOU to do the same. If you feel you have anything to contribute, please drop me a line at especially if you can comment on when to stop flying!

Happy and safe flying to all, and Merry Christmas and a happy, safe, enjoyable, flying New Year.

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