Farewell to Frank Paynter (TA)

Frank (TA) Paynter

Frank (TA) Paynter

I am very saddened to learn that my friend and mentor Frank Paynter (TA), a long time Soaring Cafe contributor and racing enthusiast has been dealt the terminating blow from the SSA. Their decision from Frank's email to me summarized is:

No contests the rest of this year, no Seniors, no Perry, and no Nationals next year, anything past 2015 depends on whether or not I can convince them, in writing, that I have been sufficiently 'reformed'.

I have flow opposite Frank in more thermals than probably anyone in soaring and he was NOT a crisis waiting for a place to happen. Frank may not have been perfect but he did not deserve to be driven out like this. I have analyzed his flights and the last one in particular and in my educated opinion he was not the only one at fault; he is just the only one being punished. In their zealousness to “fix Frank” the SSA cut the heart out of his flying career without the benefit of an anesthetic.

Frank was so disappointed in their decision that he has sold his glider and is waiting for the new owner to take it away.

In my humble opinion, the soaring community and racing have lost a valuable (though unappreciated by some) asset and friend.

BZ :-(((((

John Mittell

I am a former Naval Aviator, currently flying an ASW27, "BZ" out of Moontown airport near Huntsville, AL.

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  9 comments for “Farewell to Frank Paynter (TA)

  1. John Murphy
    July 21, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Sad event. Unprecedented. A lose.
    John (SRK)

  2. Gerard Robertson
    July 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I’d be interested to know more about how this decision was arrived at. Are Frank and the SSA willing to discuss openly?

    Decisions made about one person tend to become policy for dealing with others, so it is the policy approach which should be open to discussion. My impression of Frank is that he’s big-hearted enough to do this, so over to you, SSA.

    By the way, from a New Zealand winter (first blue day outside for some time), I am a member of the SSA, as I value access to the knowledge shared in the magazine.

    Fly safely, you in the north, and enjoy your summer.

  3. July 22, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Gerard, I think you are on to something there. I would hope that there is some education that could come from this episode.

  4. Gerard the kiwi
    July 24, 2014 at 4:32 am

    What are Frank’s rights of appeal? How can I, as an SSA member, find out what prompted the SSA to take this action? I cannot pre-judge their action, but I’d certainly like to understand why it was taken. All US pilots should have an interest in this.

    PS still winter here. Would you please get your summer over and done with so we can have the sun for our turn?

  5. Noel
    July 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    For those who are commenting and only know Frank from his articles, please understand that you do NOT have the whole story. Frank is a good author who’s written some good articles and done some good things. He has also been a polarizing figure at real-world contest sites, and has not always shown the same grace and courtesy as he does in his writing. The SSA actions were taken after many people were involved, warnings were given, and processes were followed over several months. This isn’t a case of someone getting a boot with no warning. If you don’t know the whole story, then try not to be too absolutist in your judgement of the fellow pilots that saw fit to carry out these actions.

    • Noel
      July 24, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      P.S. For many of you, the fact that you’re just finding out about this now is a *good thing*. It means that Frank wasn’t publicly slandered or scolded while things were going on. The SSA tried to handle this calmly and quietly – I remind you that Frank is the one who’s come forward to rant about it after the fact.

    • Jim clark
      August 24, 2014 at 7:38 am

      I agree with Noel, though I get the same feeling from frank’s articles. I always got the feeling Frank’s apologies for racing behavior were nice, but in the same comments there were an attitude of “it’s not my fault” or true acceptance of responsibility. Reminded me of children only saying they are sorry, but really don’t think so. Cavalier comes to mind. I would also like to throw one ore thing out. After his crash, he seemed different. Almost as if he could not believe those results could happen to him.

  6. Craig
    July 25, 2014 at 7:42 am

    It is a regrettable event. However it sounds like there is plenty of blame to share here.
    Ineffective communication, mule-hardheadedness, etc all come to mind for both parties. It seems to me that the penalty is too severe. However, I do think a “time out” is probably a good idea. Pilots can become complacent after years of successful flights. Sometimes developing “bad habits” unperceived by the pilot himself. Frank has offered to fly with another pilot to remedy the perceived deficiencies. Put a few respected pilots names, selected by Frank and the SSA(these should be non office holding) in a hat and have Frank draw. Fly and go from there.
    Our sport scares off too many good folks.

  7. stuart venters
    August 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    One way to make this into a learning event for us all might be for the pilots involved to compare their IGC files and publish their perspective. (What they were seeing, hearing, thinking, saying and doing before, during and after the encounter.)

    I trust the SSA has already done this, but to see it seems quite useful for furthering safety.

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