Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts now taking on flying

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 3: Mookie Betts
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 3: Mookie Betts /

The Boston Red Sox have another pilot in their ranks with Mookie Betts. I believe the last was Tim Wakefield and now All-Star Betts has his wings.

Mookie Betts latest personal adventure is flying.  The Twitter buzz by Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer brought this to the attention of everything Mookie.  Archer joined Mookie aboard a flight from Tampa to Miami for the All-Star Game.

Mookie’s flying adventure also had some concerns attached to the name Thurman Munson.  Munson – the New York Yankees catcher – died while practicing takeoffs and landings, better known as “touch and go’s.”

Ken Hubbs – a Chicago Cubs rookie – died at only 22-years-old when his plane crashed during a storm. Hubbs was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1962 and his tragic death could have – as with Munson – been avoid. Both accidents were the result of “pilot error” and that includes Hubbs making a decision to fly in threatening weather.

More from Red Sox News

These are a few incidents with sport and air tragedies, but two is more than enough. There is an inherent risk in flying just as in driving a car or mountain climbing or even skiing – just ask Jim Lonborg about skiing.

Baseball contracts often have restrictions placed on them to prevent player exposure (and team) to the consequences of risk. Often ignored until something happens and a player often responds with an excuse as thin as tissue.  I doubt any team wishes to have a player riding a motorcycle in the rain or skydiving prior to a pitching start.

But what about Mookie?

First, comes the full disclosure.  My father was a private pilot, my wife, the lovely Cynthia, is a private pilot and I have had my single engine pilot license since 1970.  I have a son who has 12,000 hours of jet time of which 5,000 hours are as an airline captain so I am familiar with flying. There are two levels – commercial and private.

Private is the niche that Mookie is in and that is where the vast majority of pilots reside. The process to get a license is both simple and expensive. When I received mine, I had soloed after 20 hours of instructional flight. That allowed me to fly under what is called “visual flight rules.”

After passing a flight test and a written exam I could now have passengers join me. At that point, I had accumulated just 45 hours of flight time. You can accumulate various ratings as you wish. My wife has an instrument rating, commercial, multi-engine, seaplane, and even flight instructor. This is a boatload of work, folks.

Inexperience can be fatal when flying. Munson was handling an aircraft that he had little time operating. But the reality is there are very few accidents for the number of hours flown. For Betts, I have no idea on which ratings he currently holds or is in the process of getting.  Nor do I have any idea of the number of hours he has flown and in which type of aircraft, but there are certain things that one knows about Betts.

More from Red Sox News

I am sure Betts uses a flight simulator extensively. For a player with his revenue stream, even the most high-end of simulators would not be a financial hardship and even a purchase would be relatively easy for a Betts. Simulators are exception avenues for training – just ask any military or airline pilot.

Betts is a very bright, respectful and diligent individual.  With baseball, he is a sponge when it comes to acquiring information.  Betts seeks out coaches and players to drain as much information as possible.  Betts takes coaching well and has an excellent work ethic. My assumption – and that is what it is – is that Betts transfers those same qualities into anything he chooses to pursue and that would mean flying.

Next: Red Sox continue to need to veer to the left

Betts will have great leverage when he approaches free agency and that will allow Betts to fulfill any aircraft on his wish list. Betts has taken up a challenging and expensive hobby unless he decides that being a captain for a legacy airline is more important than possibly being the captain of a baseball team.