RAW DEAL!

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by FLYBOYJ, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    This was written by a friend who attended the trial of Doug Gilliss.

    The NTSB hearing on Wednesday addressed two counts: (1) falsifying a BFR, and (2) flying too low over a populated area in an experimental airplane.

    The short version is that Count 2 was dismissed. Count 1 was upheld and Doug had all of his airman certificates revoked except for ground school instruction.

    The long version is that the judge, in his decision, stated that because Doug had arrived after dark on Saturday, September 3, his statement that Bob Chamberlain (who was with Doug) gave Dave Zweigle a check ride that day was obviously false. You could tell from the judge's facial expressions and gestures that that meant he gave no credibility to any of Doug's other testimony. The only problem with that was that IT WASN'T DOUG AND BOB WHO ARRIVED AFTER DARK ON SATURDAY, IT WAS TWO OF THE WITNESSES. The judge made a mental error that I believe gave him a mindset against Doug from then on.

    The whole Count 1 stems from the testimony of Dave Zwiegle's brother that he found a BFR sticker signed by Doug in Dave's city truck after the accident, in the console with a city ID card and a bunch of receipts, etc. The reason the sticker is a problem is that Doug never gave Dave a BFR, although that had been planned before he flew up to Tehachapi, so he prepared the paperwork ahead of time in accordance with his usual practice (he did the same on my check ride). Bob Chamberlain did the BFR on Saturday, as even Dave Zweigle's wife corroborated in written testimony which the judge apparently ignored. The sticker was in a folder that was left on a table in the airport ready room where they had all been sitting and talking prior to the fatal flight. In the confusion after the flight, all the papers somehow disappeared. Dave Zweigle's current logbook was also nowhere to be found - very odd. It might have had a BFR signoff by Bob Chamberlain in it, but it's nowhere to be found. I will not conjecture on who might have had a reason to hide or destroy his current log book or who might have put the sticker in the truck.

    The judge stated that the truck must have been locked because it was July 4 and there were a lot of people at the airport for the celebrations (the main celebrations were at Central park about 1/2 mile away). Even with additional people at the airport, there is no reason to assume that the truck would have been locked inside the airport security fence. My oldest daugher moved to Tehachapi a couple years ago (not far from the crash site) and one of the things they said when they first moved up was that people didn't lock things up like they do in Lancaster.

    By assuming it to be locked, the judge further reasoned that only Dave Zweigle could have put the BFR sticker in the console (assuming the brother's testimony that he found it there was factual). Obviously, someone had a key for the truck after accident in order to discover the sticker in the console. The key point is that the trail of custody of the sticker was lost, and the judge made his decision based on one factual error (Doug and Bob's arrival time) and one poor assumption (that the truck was locked).

    Since there were factual errors made by the judge in coming to his decision, we can only hope that the appeal will be successful.

    Watching this was an education, to say the least. The FAA had two attorneys and a small army of people there. Doug had one attorney and a few friends who showed up for moral support. Someone said later, if you think the FAA are here to promote aviation and are your friends, this should teach you a lesson. I hope that's an overstatement, but after seeing the shoddy case they presented, and how a judge came down on their side in spite of it, I can only say that if you fly warbirds, you'd better make sure your program letter and operating limits are perfect, and that everything you do is within the regulations well beyond any shadow of a doubt, because there might be some civil servant with nothing real to do who will make it his life's purpose to crucify you on the slightest shred of evidence that you did something wrong. I'm not saying they're all like that, and as a former FAA employee I know they're not, but it only takes one. The attitude that all experimental aircraft are dangerous, or at least less safe than others, was evident in several statements made throughout the day, and there was no chance for those of us who riled at that to respond. It's like blaming gun manufacturers when someone uses a gun for an illegal purpose.

    This accident was tragic. Two good men lost their lives and their families will forever be affected by it. But it was not Doug's fault. For the FAA to go on a witch hunt and persecute (and prosecute) a man who has donated innumerable hours to the FAA and aviation safety in general, who has published numerous articles on warbird safety, who practices and preaches safety ("Checklist, checklist, checklist!", "Brief the flight, fly the brief", etc.), and who provides free advice to people several times a day on the phone regarding warbirds, regulations, and safe practices, is a very poor reflection on the FAA and the process. The law is the law, but judges are supposed to use good judgement in administering it. I think the judge ran a good courtroom, but made a serious mental mistake that biased his whole outlook and subsequent logic. No one brought it to his attention (you can't - at that point, all the arguments have been presented by both sides, and although I was sorely tempted, I didn't want to get thrown out of the courtroom or held in contempt of court).

    I wonder, if he discovers his mistake, if he would admit that it biased his viewpoint and that without that factual error, he would have felt there was enough reasonable doubt (actually, a lack of the preponderence of the evidence because it was a civil case) to dismiss Count 1.



    Despite feeling terrible over what Doug is being put through, I feel a sense of vindication of soughs as the Feds were not able to prove their case with regards to the altitude and operations violations. Apparently you had a few folks from the FAA who were involved in the count 2 investigation who did not fully understand sections of Part 91 and additionally did not understand their own order for the issuance and compliance of operation letters issued to jet warbirds. With that said, why are these folks working for the FAA in a capacity of investigating experimental jet operations? IMO I believe that they need remedial training or maybe there should be some disciplinary action for the time and resources wasted in this part of the investigation - your tax dollars hard at work!!

    While I view this as a small victory within a very tragic situation, this should also serve as a warning not only to jet warbird operators but to any one who operates an aircraft in experimental category - Be Vigilant! Know your FARS! Make sure your aircraft is well maintained and everything is well documented! Know your ops letter and know how to answer questions should you ever get ramped! While we could always poke fun at the FAA I think we all know that there are some very talented and hard working people within the administration who truly wants to promote aviation, but there are some there with hidden agendas, attitudes and an out right hatred to some they are supposed to support and provide guidance to. Bottom line, I think we need to know the FARs better than those who are supposed to enforce them and in at least this case it shows that we do!

    As stated, AFAIK Doug Gilliss is seeking an appeal.
     
  2. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Joe, I really hope the appeal works for Doug. He's getting shafted to the hilt and it's WRONG! :mad: :salute:
     
  3. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    What a bunch of horseshit.....

    Im sure an appeal is in the works, or should be....
     
  4. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Damn, FBJ, I hope his appeal pulls through. Sounds like he got the short end of the stick.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    WTF! A bunch of horse ****!
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #6 FLYBOYJ, Oct 24, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2009
    Well guys, know you see the "system" in action. What is so sad is the fact that these beloved warbirds are threatened by all fronts. There are people within the FAA that would probably want all aspects of General Aviation or operation of experimental aircraft to go away.
     
  7. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Hope the appeal works out!!
     
  8. beaupower32

    beaupower32 Well-Known Member

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    Best of luck, as this is total horse sh!t!!!!
     
  9. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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  10. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Another hit to the warbird community. Damn. They need to appeal.
     
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I truly hope this ridiculously flawed decision is appealed.
     
  12. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Although the appeal may take a long time, I hope it works out for Doug.

    As for "the system" I know what you mean. I'm a gubberment worker and while I consider myself diligent and objective, I far too often see the bias within my own job. And I can only project that to the different departments throughout all levels of government. Such a wonderful thing!
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The one thing Doug has going here is NTSB trials and appeals do go quickly. He should be back in court within 30 days.
     
  14. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Can only hope that the appeal is successful.

    TO
     
  15. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    I pray the appeal works.
     
  16. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    I'll drink to that !!

    Charles
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #17 FLYBOYJ, Nov 18, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
    DOUG IS BACK!

    After a year of revocation the FAA has allowed Doug Gilliss to "retest" for all of his certificates. He passed all of his written exams and did not score less than a 94% on any of them and completed his checkrides with "flying colors." He got his type ratings back in the L-29 and L-39 which means he can instruct in them. He is still waiting word on his appeal which, if ruled in his favor, should restore his examiner status.

    I'm keeping my siggy in tact until the final ruling is read!!!
     
  18. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Way to go man!! :thumbright:
     
  19. beaupower32

    beaupower32 Well-Known Member

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    Outstanding!
     
  20. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Finally! I am hoping for a good outcome on his appeal. I think they have punished him more than enough.
     
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