I gave up being a pilot earlier this year after I had a stent put in my heart. There was no technical requirement that I do so. I did it because the risk of my having another heart attack is far greater than I am willing to tolerate in risking the lives of my passengers or people on the ground.
This was a very difficult decision for me because I have been flying for 50 years and I love it more every time I go up.
I have been a partner in a 30 foot sailboat and raced it many times. I have been a scuba diver and have dived in many parts of the world. Neither of these are of the order of magnitude of skill required to fly an airplane.
You will note, that I am keeping the photograph of me as a pilot at the top of this blog.
I want to explain that being a pilot is very difficult and the difficulty is not understood by most people.
There is a bi-annual pilot's examination, written, oral and flying, that I took it 25 times. It requires several maneuvers in the air to demonstrate complex and precise skills. It requires an emergency landing with no warning. Flying is a very demanding skill that involves a large body of knowledge, experience with a dozen complex systems and a level of focus that is intense.
Because of the complexity of being a pilot, when I took command of a plane, I became a different person. That person was intense, focused and able to concentrate on dozens of technical requirements simultaneously. Everything matters to your own life and death: weather, the engine, the fuel, radio, radar and gps systems...physics, electrical and hydraulic systems... other planes in the area too.
Unlike a car, you can't just 'pull over' and stop.
I am very proud to have been a pilot. There are only a few hundred thousand of us licensed in the United States. I give up my license with great regret.