Stay-At-Home Orders: Can I Still Go Flying?

by Duane Gall, AAM Safety Officer

Wow. When I signed up for this, I thought I’d be dealing with Band-Aids and fire extinguishers, not epidemiology … but here goes.

The “novel coronavirus,” a/k/a “COVID-19,” has changed our lives already & will keep doing so for the foreseeable future. Right now both Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado department of public health & environment have issued stay-at-home orders effective through Saturday, April 11. Both of these orders and a very complete list of FAQs can be found at the state’s Web site:

The purpose of these orders is to slow down transmission of the virus by preventing any social contact (touching or breathing the same air) between individuals outside the home. To understand the power of social distancing, watch this amazing little movie:

Obviously a 100% lockdown is impossible; people do have to go outside to get food, for example, or fix a downed power line or walk the dog. (Studies have shown that indoor dog poop is a pretty significant health threat. Just ask any dog who’s tried it!) So “necessary activities,” and “necessary travel” to accomplish those activities, are exempt from the stay-at-home orders.

The good news is that “necessary activities” includes “outdoor activity, … [for] example and without limitation, walking, hiking, nordic skiing, showshoeing, biking or running. … [but] the permitted outdoor activities … do not include activities that would violate the social distancing requirements … “. (Amended public health order 20-24, page 5, paragraph III.A.3; emphasis added.)

I encourage you to read the orders and decide for yourself, but the conclusions I draw are:

1. We probably won’t get arrested for being at the field, or for driving to get there; and

2. We should at all times maintain at least a 6-foot distance from each other. No sitting in a cluster at the picnic table, no stooping with our heads down in a turbine model wondering why it hasn’t exploded yet, etc.

Also, in case you hadn’t heard, this particular virus seems to last for quite a while on surfaces. So if you borrow a wrench or an electric starter (remember those?) from someone who has COVID-19 and doesn’t know it yet, you may be exposed. And up to half of the people who have the disease show no symptoms at all. So while cleaning all your gear with Clorox wipes doesn’t make sense, bringing some wipes along with you and using them on your hands once in a while certainly does.

So, even though there’s no cure for COVID-19, we can make a serious dent in another nasty disease: Cabin fever! See you at the field!


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