"If God Is his Co-pilot, why worry if your Pilot is 'Listening to Prozac'?"--FAA Spokester

TSA screeners at San Diego-Lindbergh Int’l Airport can touch your junk, but they better NOT make advances on your pilot’s Paxil. That’s what—in their infallible wisdom—the FAA ruled April 5, 2010, opening the anti-depressant market to our nation’s 610,000 private and commercial pilots.

When confronted with evidence that autopsies of over 4,000 pilots involved in fatal air crashes between January 1, 1993 and December 31, 2003, had SSRIs in their bloodstream, FAA spokester, Polyphemus Z. Candide brushed it off as conspiracy theorist paranoia by Oped newswriter Evelyn Pringles, author of “SSRIs Render Unfriendly Skies.”

“I see no problem with depressed pilots getting a little medicinal help.” he responded while petting his seeing-eye dog Odysseus. “Since recent medical studies have shown Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) to be no more effective than placebos in treating depression, why should the average commercial jet passenger care if the men and women in the cockpit choose to spend their flight pay building up Big Pharma’s bottom line?”

One reason for concern may be that, even though SSRIs’ benefits may be no greater than a placebo, the side effects certainly can be. The PDR or Physician’s Desk Reference—the generally acknowledged “Bible” on legal pharmaceuticals—lists the following as “Frequent” and “Infrequent” (as opposed to “Rare”) side effects of SSRIs:

▪ Manic Reaction (Mania, e.g., Kleptomania, Pyromania, Dipsomania, Nymphomania) ▪ Hypomania (e.g., poor judgment, over spending, impulsivity, etc.) ▪ Abnormal Thinking ▪ Halluciantions ▪ Personality Disorder ▪ Amnesia ▪ Agitation ▪ Psychosis ▪ Abnormal Dreams ▪ Emotional Lability (Or Instability) ▪ Alcohol Abuse and/or Craving ▪ Hostility ▪ Paranoid Reactions ▪ Confusion ▪ Delusions ▪ Sleep Disorders ▪ Akathisia (Severe Inner Restlessness, Inability to Sit Still) ▪ Impulsivity

While the average business commuter might learn to live with the FAA’s judgment that having a psychotic, delusional, hallucinating, suicidal flight crew prone to forgetfulness, impulsivity and starting fires in the cockpit, they may balk at a pilot with severe Akathisia (inability to sit still).

But perhaps, in its infinite wisdom, the FAA is already considering chairless cockpits.

“Mandating that pilots stand while at the controls would allow the rear wall of the cockpit to be moved forward an additional four feet, and allow two more rows of passenger seats to be installed in every commercial jet,” asserted Candide.

“The resultant increase in tariffs and taxes could save the Airline Industry and affiliated municipalities from bankruptcy and default, respectively. And. if the usually reactionary Professional Pilots Association predictably balks at a Standing Room Only policy in cockpit, at least the pharmaceutical manufacturers would benefit when the FAA makes Ritalin a required medication for all commercial flight crews.”

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