Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rake 22: Grounded No More

The high-stakes, high-speed world-wide ongoing difference-of-opinion was invented on AVSIG.  Before online discussion forums no other venue allowed so many people from so many backgrounds to debate on one worldwide stage.

There is no speaker list in online discussion.  No "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and goodnight."

Instead a multitude of oft-times divergent opinions dispensed from anywhere at any time that shape and form issues by the hour.

An evening of back-and-forth on glass cockpits stretches for weeks.

Who's this new guy who claims to drive Concordes?  Who's this lady who says she makes helicopters stay in the air?

Where are these know-it-alls from, and why are they banging out posts at three in the morning?

Over the decades we've had our share of industry Type As, unaccustomed to having their expertise so-challenged, punch-out of our little 24-7 electronic aerodrome in a huff.

But some stayed and embraced the highs and lows of controlled online free-for-alls, and one was John Wiley.

Wiley was that rare combination of 50,000-pound-thrust expert moderated by a unique yaw and pitch control system made up of equal-parts tough skin and biting humor.  A decorated Vietnam vet, airline pilot, and award-winning journalist who didn't wear any of it on his sleeve.

As a regular air safety commentator on CNN, Mr. Wiley drew both plaudits and bile.  Last July we blogged about John's unique capacity for getting AvSafety talking head wannabes to throw public tantrums about being left on the Look-at-Me-I'm-on-TV dance hall wall.

Those of us who were treated to John's whimsical retorts won't soon forget them.

A few years back John hit a pothole during a high-speed descent on his bicycle.  He had spent many tortured months repairing a broken shoulder, and was hopeful of getting back on the bike and back up in little airplanes soon.

Last Friday John suffered a fatal heart attack while working out at the gym.  He leaves a wife, two daughters, and many other family members and friends to repair broken hearts.



  1. Well done, Mike.

  2. Mike, thanks for this post...I'd been off-line for a few days and came back to this sad news.

    Y'know, I fancy myself as able to assemble workmanlike prose. But I was in awe of John Wiley's writing. There was a music to his language that moved the heart as well as the mind. We all sure are going to miss him.

    Maybe now he can get some formation time in with Ramona. Ya' think?


  3. I'm pretty sure the only formation John and Ramona would fly would be no formation at all. Yet somehow it *would* be a formation. RIP, John.