Know when to crow

To at least some degree we pilot types have gotten a bad rap. More often than not I find that we’re characterized as whiners, babies, rich guys who want everybody else in town to pay for their playthings. And while I disagree entirely with that perspective, I can completely understand how we came to earn the reputation.

The non-pilot community only hears about the pilot community when we want something. They rarely hear about Young Eagle flights, Angel Flights, or any of the other altruistic, supportive things we do in our communities. Pilots only make the paper when we want something, or when we make a deep impact in the earth. In either case, the slant the public sees in the news is not in our favor.

In order to be truly successful in the long term, you have to know how to crow when the time is right. And the time is right for every airport, and every pilot at some point. So sing the praises of your home field when you can. Promote the accomplishments of your fellow pilots. Make the papers and spread the word. Aviation has an up side that everyone can enjoy, even from the safety and security of their breakfast table.

Michelle Bostick, (left) and Jo Alcorn (right) accept well wishes from student pilot Madie Beckett as they prepare to participate in the 2010 Air Race Classic in their C-172 dubbed City of Winter Haven."Photo by Joy Townsend

The latest crowing I got to do was just this morning, when the city commissioners, city manager, airport manager, and a solid selection of my municipality’s management staff made their way to good ‘ol Gilbert Field to send off two sharp dressed women in bright pink shirts to battle their way through four days of hard flying as competitors in the 2010 Air Race Classic. Jo Alcorn and Michelle Bostick will both be plotting and planning and winging their way from Fort Meyers, Florida, to Frederick, Maryland, as competitors. Their route will wind through Waycross, Georgia; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Cameron, Missouri; Murphysboro, Illinois; Elkhart, Indiana; and Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Admittedly, it’s not a straight line race. But that’s part of what makes it so exciting. Jo and Michelle’s C-172 will zig-zag across the southeast, into the midwest, and finally come to rest in the mid-Atlantic states, all the while sporting a collection of stickers that make their stock race plane look oddly reminiscent of a NASCAR competitor.

Emblazoned on the nose of the plane is a sticker that our city is quite proud of. Like Lindbergh before them, these two awesome aviatrixes have chosen to plant the name of their home base on the cowl of their machine. The words, “City of Winter Haven” will be making the trip with them, as will the hearts and best wishes of at least a good percentage of us.

You have to know when to crow and put up a big, genuine cheer for the home team. You can never tell where that positive press might lead. For the moment, we’ve got high hopes for our team finishing high up on the ledger board as they cross the finish line. And you can bet that we’ll be singing their praises every step of the way.

Go Classic 19 team of Alcorn and Bostick! Go, City of Winter Haven! The folks back home are with you from start to finish.

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport. You can reach him at

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