Aging Pilots - another problem


Sid Tolchin
 

Hi, Marc.

Very timely thread.

I just turned 88 in May, retired Navy, and have been flying my LongEZ since 1987 after a 5-year build.

It has been flown across the pond twice and Ed Esteb, my partner, and I have enjoyed every minute in it or working on it.

Ed is 92 now and stopped flying in 2010.  I have been flying it regularly with an average of 80 to 100 hours a year.

It is specially equipped with a lot of avionics since it has also been used as a testbed for Trio Avionics autopilots with whom I have been associated from its date of inception in 2000.

After parting with my 35-year-owned T210, N94203, in 2009, the LongEZ was the beneficiary, with a redo including a 160 HP Lyc O-320 D1A, a complete panel and electrical upgrade and a new paint design in 2011.

It has been a joy flying all over the US and Canada with my wife, Penny, other family members and friends and it has stimulated several of these to get their own private pilot licenses.

Since our kids, grandkids and great grandkids are all over the country, it has been really convenient.

I hold a private pilot, instrument rating and rarely fly in any real weather or at night any more.

I have a current third class medical, current biennial flight review and was instrument current as of April of this year, awaiting a new IPC after Covid-19 ends.

I flew to and participated in the AOPA Aging Pilots Program at University of North Dakota several years ago and do my fair share of FAAST, Aviation Safety, AOPA , mZeroA, etc., continuing education participation on line.

Although, in over 60 years of flying in the US, Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Australia, I have had several emergencies, I have never had an incident or accident.

I've been with a single private insurance broker, LL Johns, LLC, since the 70's.

For personal reasons I must have liability insurance to fly and I am not able to self insure. I stopped hull coverage several years ago at the suggestion of my broker.

March of this year I received a certified mail from my current carrier, Starr Aviation, that my liability coverage would not be renewed.

My broker has tried all of the commercial aviation insurance carriers in the US, except for Avemco that is private, and has informed me that none would insure me because of my age and flying an experimental aircraft.  I really don't know if they would insure were I still flying the 210 or any other certified aircraft. Other brokers, including that sponsored by AOPA, have also turned down my applications since they all use the same carriers. 

I am awaiting completion of my IPC before applying to Avemco.  My buddy, Jerry, is with them and he’s over 80.

I am reminded of Bob Hoover, RIP,  but his problems were with the FAA and not insurance carriers, although he did have a problem in Australia flying an airshow because he couldn't get liability insurance at less than 2 million dollars.

So, it appears that no availability of liability insurance will now spell the end of my flying days in my beloved LongEZ.

I am left with the alternative of flying right seat only with my many friends and instructors in other aircraft but not in my pride and joy, N12ET, with no full controls or rudder/brakes in the rear seat area.

I'm sure there are many pilots on this site that are in similar circumstances and would like to hear their stories.

But now I must decide whether to sell this plane, part it out or donate it to a museum. 

I donated my VariEZE N24RW, built by Roman Wazilewski, a very fine craftsman, in the early 70's, to the San Diego Air and Space Museum years ago and that turned out to be a disaster with its rotting away at the Gillespie Field Annex, outside in the elements and uncared for, so I'm super cautious about donating this jewel to anyone.

Although I considered it, I haven’t joined UFO because of my own activity restraints and since most of their meetings are not fly-ins, at least locally.

Sorry for the downer communication but would appreciate yours and anybody’s thoughts on the subject.

Sid Tolchin, LongEZ N12ET

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