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. He is also a founding partner and regular contributor to FlightMonkeys.com.
In February I gave a speech to a group of business and civic leaders on the value of aviation. I asked for input from readers when I was putting the speech together, and I reported in this space that the finished product was well received. Thanks in part to GAN readers, I was able to represent the industry in a beneficial way. My goal was to be well prepared, present our case well, and make some small but important inroads into the business community in a way they may not have anticipated.
I’m happy to say that together, we were successful on all those points. But what I had not anticipated was the interest in the speech from those who reside outside my local area. After receiving a considerable number of requests for a copy of the presentation, it became clear that not video-taping the event was an oversight. I regret that.
Being unable to go back in time and rectify the situation, I decided to do the next best thing. So a small crew and I set about shooting an abbreviated version of the presentation that would be available for wider distribution.
This recreated version is abbreviated for two reasons. First, while the original was well received and apparently more entertaining than the audience had anticipated, it was 40 minutes long. It seems unlikely to me that anyone would willingly sit through a 40 minute speech when viewed on a computer monitor. Not even my mother has that kind of dedication to hearing me talk.
Secondarily, I wanted to put together a version of the presentation that hit the high points, but wasn’t as specific to the county I live in. There’s a long list of great reasons why GA is important to my hometown – economics, tourism, public-safety, education, and the obvious links to high-speed transportation being only a few. But my town is not your town. We have similarities between our communities, I’m sure. But there are unique attributes to my town and yours that may not translate well between them – so I left that material out.
What we’re left with is 5 minutes, 48 seconds of talking points on the topic of general aviation and how it can benefit any community. That’s a good thing, as I see it.
Now understand, I’m using the term, “talking points” in its best possible context. It is not my suggestion that anyone memorize this presentation, or use my examples verbatim to represent their airport, their aviation oriented aspirations, or to sway their particular municipal government when dealing with the issues that surround airport operations. Instead, my hope is that this cut-down version of a pro-aviation speech will start a conversation that will serve us all well. And that includes the non-aviation segment of society. Remember, non-aviation enthusiasts outnumber those of us who consider a day at the airport to be a treat, by a considerable number.
The goal is not to preach to the choir – but rather to expand the tent by talking straight, bringing the benefits of aviation operations to the multitudes, and showing them clear, easily understandable examples of how aviation positively impacts their lives on a daily basis – because it must assuredly does just that.
As an example, there is a reference in this presentation to my time as a flight student, and the propensity my fellow students and I had for going to the movies. While I don’t make the point explicitly, you don’t have to squint very hard while reading between the lines to recognize that we bought a lot of movie tickets, popcorn, candy, and drinks. It takes a lot of repetition to learn the lines of a movie when they’re spoken in an unfamiliar language.
And that’s the crux of it. A flight school located at Sanford/Orlando airport directly benefited a movie theater located in town. Now if that’s not a stellar example of how aviation spreads its economic influence into the nooks and crannies of a local economy – I’d like to hear a better one.
Seriously, I’d like us to share lots of examples of how aviation supports the non-aviation businesses in town. Because that’s our winning argument. So feel free to comment right here on GAN to share your ideas, your experiences, and your impressions of how we can carry this discussion to the next level and make real progress in the process.
Remember, it’s not about how much we like airplanes. It’s about how much the non-aviation folks should be motivated to keep aviation alive and well for their own benefit.
Now that’s a winning argument if ever I heard one.
You can reach Jamie at Jamie@GeneralAviationNews.com