By Christopher A. Hart
When people think of the NTSB, they most often think of our investigators working diligently at the scene of accidents in transportation. Many are also familiar with the safety recommendations that we issue to help make transportation safer.
What is less well known is that the NTSB serves as a “court of appeal” for airmen, mechanics or mariners who are contesting an FAA or USCG certificate action. Our administrative law judges hear, consider, and issue initial decisions on such appeals.
On February 6, 2016, the NTSB suffered the sudden loss of Administrative Law Judge Patrick G. Geraghty. On behalf of the entire agency, I would like to express my condolences to Judge Geraghty’s family, friends, and colleagues.
Judge Geraghty served this nation as a naval aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps where he flew F-4 Phantom jets during the Vietnam War. After his military service, he served as a senior trial attorney with the Federal Aviation Administration before becoming an Administrative Law Judge. He was first appointed to hear cases with the U.S. Department of Labor. Judge Geraghty joined the NTSB as an administrative law judge in 1975. During his more than 41 years of distinguished service with the NTSB, he heard and decided hundreds of medical and aviation enforcement cases. He was a respected jurist who was always generous in sharing his expertise and advice with his fellow judges and with staff.
Judge Geraghty sometimes upheld FAA orders to suspend or revoke a pilot’s license, but he was also an instructor who helped many pilots learn how to comply with the regulations — and fly more safely — as they began or advanced their aviation careers. He held an airline transport pilot certificate and was a certified flight instructor. He also earned the prestigious title of PADI course instructor in scuba diving, and trained hundreds of scuba divers and instructors.
Judge Geraghty balanced scholarship and professionalism with a zest for everything else that life had to offer. He was a voracious reader and a lifelong learner, and he passionately pursued skiing, scuba diving, martial arts, and flying. In recent years, he learned to play the bagpipes, and traveled to Italy to take an immersion course in Italian. At the time of his passing, he was working toward a black belt in Kung Fu.
In addition to many colleagues and friends, Judge Geraghty is survived by his wife, Donna; his sons, Michael and Matthew, and his grandsons Matt and Jack.
Judge Geraghty will be greatly missed, but his legacy lives on in the many lives he enriched, both through his service to others and through the example that he set.