The death of Common Sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense in general aviation. It will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to not fly into a storm, life isn’t always fair, and maybe it was pilot error. Common Sense lived by simple, sound principals, including “follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance practices” and “the pilot is in charge.”

Its health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Those who filed lawsuits because engines quit when they ran out of fuel and airplanes actually require maintenance only worsened its condition.

Common Sense lost ground when people moved next to busy airports and then sued because airplanes kept flying near their properties.

It declined even further when airplane companies were sued for mechanical problems with airplanes built over 50 years ago. And it lost all will to live when lawyers successfully argued that, because airplane manufacturers developed new systems, that must mean that the old ones were defective.

Common Sense took a real beating when legislators worked to outlaw 100LL, not because it was harmful, but because it sounds unhealthy.

Common Sense was in despair when the EPA declared that ethanol fuel will work in all internal combustion engines, even if it kills you. (Well actually, it would just barely kill you, but they felt that at least the air for your last breath would be of better quality.)

When asked to comment, the FAA said that the myth of Common Sense had been dispelled in a FAR many years ago.

A representative from the American Bar Association could not be reached as all of the lawyers were out celebrating. The response from the Democratic and Republican parties was identical: They both said, “Common What?” I guess it’s nice that they finally agreed on something.

Common Sense was preceded in death by its parents, Truth and Trust; a spouse, Discretion; and two children, Responsibility and Reason. It is survived by four stepbrothers: “I Know My Rights,” “I Want It Now,” “Someone Else Is To Blame,” and “I Am A Victim.”

Not many attended its funeral because so few knew it or realized it was gone.

RIP. You will be missed.

Ben Visser is an aviation fuels and lubricants expert who spent 33 years with Shell Oil. He has been a private pilot since 1985. You can contact him at Go to the story on the GAN web site.

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