Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2017
ARLINGTON, VA. – It was ironic that John King of King Schools confirmed on March 8, 2017, just prior to the Robert A. Hoover Trophy ceremonies at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va., that his airman medical certificate had been reinstated following its suspension in 2016. King was prepared to go before an administrative law judge, but told Midwest Flyer Magazine that he decided instead to first appeal to the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Peggy Gilligan. In email correspondence, King explained to Gilligan that the FAA’s Aero Medical Division was not applying the same core values in which the compliance philosophy was founded upon, that being to judge each airman individually, and not make blanket rulings.
King had experienced a seizure in 2014, possibly from being overly tired, and when his medical came due and King reported the incident to his aviation medical examiner, the FAA suspended his medical. Efforts to convince the Federal Air Surgeon that this was a one-time occurrence fell on deaf ears, despite the backing of medical experts.
The irony of all of this is that Bob Hoover was likewise subjected to the same scrutiny, when on December 15, 1993, the FAA suspended his second class medical certificate on an emergency basis after two FAA inspectors filed a complaint stating that his Rockwell Shrike Commander performance was poorly flown at Aerospace America in Oklahoma City, Okla. in 1992, and that he was distant in his relations with other airshow performers during the show. That airshow was held June 19-21, 1992; the complaint was filed August 26, 1992; and Hoover flew 33 additional shows between the Oklahoma City show and the day on which he voluntarily discontinued flying in April 1993 to submit to medical testing.
A court ruled in favor of Hoover, citing medical evidence proving that the then 72-year-old was fit to fly. However, in an appeal to the full five-member board of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the decision was overturned based on the opinion of the Federal Air Surgeon.
Hoover went on to obtain an Australian pilot’s license and passed their medical examination with flying colors, which allowed him to perform anywhere but in the United States. Hoover eventually won reinstatement of his medical on October 19, 1995 with restrictions.