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Sat, Mar 30, 2024

Wing-Walking Biz Grounded by FAA Action

Emergency Revocation Order Ends Thrill Flights

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revoked the pilot license of Mike Mason, owner and operator of the Mason Wing Walking Academy in Sequim, Washington, effectively shutting down his controversial wing-walking business. 

The FAA cited a breach of safety rules as the reason for their decision. In its Letter of Emergency Revocation of March 18, 2024, the FAA stated that "[The FAA] Administrator has determined that an emergency exits related to safety in air commerce and that the immediate action to revoke your Airline Transport Pilot certificate is required."Mason stated that an FAA inspector had OK'd the wing walking flights back in 2012.

The FAA pointed out that Maon's passengers did not wear parachutes, yet they were tethered o the airframe, and deployment of a chute would likely have killed the passenger and brought down the airplane.

The Mason Wing Walking Academy had been in operation for 12 years, offering thrill-seekers the opportunity to walk on the wings of a 1940 Stearman biplane while it performed aerobatic feats, charging over $1,000 for the experience. Mason conducted the flights from the private Blue Ribbon Farms airport near Sequim and public airports around the Olympic Penninsula. However, the business faced property owner complaints at Blue Ribbon Farms and a lawsuit as wells as an FAA investigation that forced it to move its home-based operations. Mason also operated out of the Santa Paula, CA airport during the winter months.

The FAA's decision to revoke Mason's pilot license effectively shuts down the wing-walking flights. According to the FAA, Mason Wing Walking allowed paying customers to walk on the wings of the Stearman biplane while in flight, violating safety regulations. The FAA decided that the wing walking flights, which included aerobatic maneuvers while the passenger was outside the cabin seat, "were careless or reckless so as to endanger the life or property of another."

Rural residents southwest of the town of Sequim also sent in complaints of noise generated by the flights, which were typically conducted at 3,500 feet AGL.

FMI: http://www.faa.gov

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