Reading news of the FAA’s ground stoppage of flights this morning, I see that NOTAMs — notices to airmen in my day — are now notices to air missions.
Score one for gender neutrality. Let it be noted, though, that the FAA (and the CAA before it) uses the term airman for pilots and other aircrew members: Amelia Earhart was an airman back in the day; the woman who flies your local news channel’s Eye in the Sky helicopter today is an airman. Not to mention that the U.S. Air Force still calls its members airmen, even using the term as an enlisted rank (airman, airman first class, senior airman). One can claim airman is gender neutral, like mankind for human — but few are buying it these days.
Back to NOTAMs, though: pilots and aircrews are supposed to read the latest notices before every flight. When I flew for the USAF, NOTAMs came by teletype and were printed on long paper scrolls which were then pinned to a bulletin board by the ops counter, your last stop before life support and stepping to the aircraft. There were always lots of NOTAMs to read; some relatively unimportant, some critical, all printed in the same telegraphic format, something like this:
NOTAM M0023/23: Nellis Air Force Base (KLSV)
M0023/23 NOTAMN Q) ZLA/QXXXX/IV/NBO/A/000/999/3614N11502W005 A) KLSV B) 2301111452 C) 2301171400 E) AERODROME AIRFIELD OPERATING HOURS FOR 12 JAN 23 -17 JAN 23 : THURSDAY 12 JAN: REMAIN OPEN, FRI 13 JAN: REMAIN OPEN -1700L (REMAIN OPEN – 0100Z), SAT 14 JAN: 0420L-1030L (1220Z-1830Z), SUN 15 JAN 1300L-1430L (2100Z-2230Z), MON 16 JAN: AFLD CLSD, TUES 17 JAN 0600L-REMAIN OPEN. CREATED: 11 Jan 2023 14:53:00 SOURCE: KLSV
Even though the important ones were printed in the same font and color as the unimportant ones, you knew how to read them and could easily spot the ones likely to affect the mission you were about to fly.
NOTAMs are delivered by computer now (and in the case of commercial airlines transmitted directly to screens in cockpits), but the basics of the system remain unchanged, and I won’t be surprised to learn fighter squadrons still print them and post them to bulletin boards.
Re the latest screaming headlines about the classified documents discovered in the closet of a private office once used by Joe Biden. There’s no point bitching about bothsiderism. It’s not going to change, ever. That both sides do it is foundational to common wisdom; it’s what people expect to hear. The media’s merely doing what everyone does when it jumps on any story that makes Biden look as bad as Trump.
Is Biden as bad as Trump? Sure, in the same sense that I’m as bad as Trump, and you, and the Pope. We’re all human, after all. It’s just that most of us haven’t been credibly accused of raping 13-year-olds, being active Russian agents, or attempting coups.