Tom

Sudduth

, Midland

, Texas

, United States

Posted on
2020-02-15 16:40:11
“The following is a letter I sent to Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. John Cornyn, and Congressman Mike Conaway. Unfortunately, the embedded pictures did not go thru and I was only limited to 2 pics on your survey. Proposed FAA rule for UAS Remote ID (Docket Name FAA-2019-1100) Senator Cruz, My name Is Tom Sudduth and I live in Midland, Texas. I am writing to you in an effort to enlist your help in stopping or at least greatly reducing the impact of the recently announced proposed rule regarding remote identification of unmanned aircraft (UAS). It is my belief (and the belief of hundreds of thousands of other like-minded people) that this proposed rule and its onerous regulation will have a detrimental and permanent effect on the model aviation hobby and will also have significant long-term, undesirable, and unintended consequences to the aviation industry and to our national security. In the words that follow I will tell you a true story about my grandson, Airman First Class Tomas Angel Frances. A story which would not have occurred if it weren’t for his exposure to the model aviation hobby I urge you to carefully consider what the details of the story that follows and I hope that you will come to the same conclusions that I and so many of my fellow model aviation enthusiasts have. Almost eighteen years ago, my wife, Pam, and I were fortunate enough to be able to take in Tommy (our grandson) and rescue him from the abusive and neglected existence that he suffered through at the hands of his mother and her physically abusive father and subsequent boyfriend. When he came into our home just a few months shy of his third birthday sporting the physical and mental injuries acquired from living with his mother and her boyfriend, Tommy was in a fragile state and very withdrawn. Over the ensuing years, Pam and I made sure he got the help that he needed to recover from those injuries. Although this part of Tommy’s life has had an effect on him, it has not defined him in any way, shape or form. Tommy is a man of many talents. As a young child he excelled at competitive swimming. Later when he decided to pick up the violin, Tommy became a very talented musician, achieving many accolades for his ability, including going to State all four years of high school and earning first chair in the Midland High School Orchestra. I tell you this part of his story to set the stage for the wonderful story to come. As I recall, Tommy was no more than nine years old when I first put a transmitter in his little hands. I knew he had watched me build and fly model airplanes the previous 6 plus years. So I figured it was time to bring him out to the flying field and see if he had any interest in the hobby. I remember showing him the transmitter and what the different controls would to the airplane. I would hold the airplane in my hands and have him work the controls. Then I would demonstrate how the inputs would affect the airplane in flight by banking the aircraft right or left, or by climbing or diving the airplane. All of this was demonstrated according to the movements of the control surfaces I witnessed coming from his inputs. The airplane I used for the demonstration was a small high wing trainer that I had scratch built for him from a three-view drawing. It was an inexpensive little model airplane constructed from ¼ inch foam board insulation commonly used in the hobby. In short order, Tommy was able to fly the pattern around the field. Soon he was taking the airplane off from the ground by himself and then he mastered landing the airplane. At the tender young age of nine, Tommy had joined the ranks of fellow RC Pilots and this lit a spark in him that grew into a passion for airplanes and aviation. A passion which he could share with his Papa. From those beginnings, Tommy’s passion for aviation continued to grow. This passion led him to join the AFJROTC program his sophomore year at Midland High School. During his tenure at MHS Airforce JROTC, Tommy accomplished many things. He took charge of the RC club and helped secure new model airplanes and equipment for the club to use. He was a member of the JROTC Honor Guard and performed the Honor Guard Ceremony at many functions around Midland and surrounding areas. Tommy become known as the resident expert on all the different types of military aircraft as well as general aviation knowledge. His mastery of the JROTC flight simulators was matched by very few. In his senior year, Tommy was promoted to second in command of the MHS AFJROTC unit, where he excelled. It was in his senior year that the AFJROTC teacher encouraged Tommy to apply for admittance into an inaugural program that The USAF was kicking off to encourage young people to consider a career in aviation. The program selected 120 AFJROTC cadets nationwide and paid for them to go through pilot training at 6 different Universities scattered throughout the nation. Tommy was the only cadet in the Permian Basin that was selected for this inaugural program. So, in June of 2018 after graduation, Tommy Headed up to Kansas State Polytechnic in Selina, Kansas to spend 7 weeks training to be a private pilot. He attended class every weekday learning about all the rules, regulations and procedure for fly an aircraft. They were taught how to develop and submit flight plans and how to navigate. In the afternoons, they would take to the air in Cessna 172s and apply what they had learned in the classroom. Within ten days of arriving at flight school, Tommy sent us a video of his first Solo which included footage of three very smooth touch and goes. As He progressed through flight training, Pam and I would monitor his various flights thru an app that would track his tail number while he was in the air. It was all very exciting to watch him progress through the training. At the end of the 7 weeks, Pam and I traveled up to Salina to see Tommy graduate from flight school. We were at the airport the day Tommy took his final solo flight before his check ride. This flight required him to take off from Salina and fly to two different airfields, land to a full stop at each way point, take off again and fly back to Salina. All of this from a flight plan that he created. We watched him come in on his final approach, land and taxi right in front of us at the end of this flight. Words cannot express how proud His grandmother and I were at that moment. After graduation, Tommy had to stay an extra couple of days, at his own expense, to get his final check ride done. But he was adamant about finishing what he had started. In the end, he passed his check ride and is now a licensed private pilot. For me, the best part came later that year when my grandson took me and my oldest granddaughter for a flight up to Andrews, Texas where he performed two touch and goes and then we flew back to Midland. However, the story doesn’t end there. After coming back home and going to work, Tommy received a letter from your office congratulating him on his successful completion of flight school. Tommy really started thinking about his future and how he could maintain his passion to fly. He eventually made the decision to join the United States Airforce. He had been toying with the idea all during high school. But after his experiences with AFJROTC and his flight training, Tommy knew that a career in the air force was the right decision for him. So almost exactly one year from the day he left for flight school, Tommy went up to MEPS in Amarillo to sign his contract and swear in to the USAF. Again, Pam and I were there with our two granddaughters to witness the ceremony. It was very moving and scary at the same time. He eventually reported to Basic Training at Lackland AFB in September of 2019 and started his career in the USAF. Tommy’s previous experience in JROTC helped him excel at BMT. He became the go to guy for his fellow trainees in areas pertain to military life like how to march, stand at attention, and even ironing the uniform. Tommy pushed himself during BMT to achieve his goal of becoming an Honor Graduate (top 10% of graduating airmen). Over the coarse of his training, He managed to earn all 4 ribbons that were available as well as earning all the challenge coins that trainee could earn. Tommy did achieve his goal and earned the title of Honor Graduate. He was the only one in his flight to do so. Because of his previous experience in AFJROTC and his accomplishments at BMT, Tommy came out of training with the rank of Airman 1st Class. He is now serving his country and looking forward to making a career in the USAF. Although some may not think that my grandson’s story is as remarkable as my wife and I do. However, I can tell you, with out a doubt, that Tommy’s story would not have turned out the same way if it weren’t for his introduction to remote controlled model aviation. I also believe that the proposed FAA rule for UAS remote ID and all its regulations will prevent stories like my grandson’s from ever happening again. If these rules had been in place back then, it would have been against the law for me to build the little airplane I used to introduce Tommy to the hobby. It would have been against the law for me to fly this as well. Furthermore, it would have been prohibitively expensive for me to participate in this hobby or introduce my grandson to the hobby. This proposed rule will have a chilling effect on our hobby and will have many undesirable and unintended consequences that will have a detrimental effect on the ability of the USA to maintain its dominance in the field of aviation in general. As demonstrated in my grandson’s story, participation in the hobby of model aviation has typically been a starting point for those who desire to become pilots. There are several organizations in this country that are warning of impending pilot shortages. The Regional Airline Association cites a study that estimates the shortage of pilots will reach 14,000 by 2026. Boeing is estimating the industry will need over 645,000 new commercial pilots globally over the next 20 years. The FAA itself reported, in 2017, a 30 percent decline in the number of pilots over the last 30 years. It is also estimated that 41 percent of all active pilots will retire over the next ten years. With all this evidence of a current and ever growing shortage of pilots, the role that model aviation has played in the past, providing a springboard for people to use to launch a career in commercial aviation, will be severely curtailed in the future as the full consequences of these new rules decimate the hobby. These unintended consequences will also affect the national security of the USA because these shortages will also be felt by all of the branches of the US military. Without the necessary number of pilots needed to fly the best military aircraft in the world, the USA will not be able to maintain its military dominance. Although the proposed rules may have been born out of a desire to promote public safety, the reality is that these new rules will not improve public safety. Rather, they will adversely affect public safety by exacerbating an already problematic pilot shortage and by eroding the ability of the US military to provide security for this great nation. These rules may be intended to protect us from those who choose to break the law but all they really do is punish those of us who practice our hobby in a safe responsible manner. Law breakers, by definition, do not follow the law. The expectation that these new rules and regulations will deter the law breakers from doing what they do is not a practical or a reasonable Thank you, in advance, for your help in preserving the great hobby of Remote-Controlled Model Aviation by interceding on behalf of model aviators everywhere and stopping this proposed rule from being implemented. Tom Sudduth 2403 Maxwell Dr Midland, Texas 79705”
Share on email
Share on print
Share on facebook
Share on twitter