Navigating a course to the future

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 You can reach him at

Dick Gaynor is running for a seat on the city council in Columbus, Indiana. I know this because he wrote to tell me so. You see, Dick is a pilot who has gotten involved in the political fabric of life in Columbus. I did the same thing here in Winter Haven, FL.

Misery loves company, I guess.

To be honest, being involved in politics is often difficult. You have to go in knowing that for every person you’re going to please, you’re going to very probably displease a similar number. You will be on the wrong track from time to time. You can only hope that you will recognize your own limitations, improve on your potential, and keep your ears open more often than your mouth.

With all that in mind, I applaud Mr. Gaynor, and anyone else who sees an opportunity to serve their community by jumping into the political arena. The pay is low (as it should be) the hours are long (as they must be) and the gratitude is fleeting. But it’s still worth the trouble.

Now I have to be honest and tell you that I don’t know Mr. Gaynor and I am certainly not endorsing him based on nothing more than the knowledge that he is a fellow pilot. I can tell you that I am pleased that he gains some solace from this column, however. And I can tell you that I am tremendously proud of being involved with a publication like General Aviation News, which is led by a publisher and an editor who believe in taking a stand when the situation requires it. This column, and the full spectrum of blog postings on the GAN webpages has done a wonderful job of building, supporting, and encouraging a sense of community that we desperately need today. Not just in aviation either. We need a strong sense of community in our society as a whole. It’s guys like Dick Gaynor, jumping into the fray, who make that possible.

You have to speak up, and speak out if you’re going to have any chance of making a difference in the world. Sometimes your voice will be heard, and sometimes it will be drown out by the crowd. But you have to take a stand anyway – even if there is a risk that nobody will notice, or that your message might not resonate with the audience you’re talking to.

If we only initiated projects and campaigns that we absolutely knew would be successful, very few new ideas would make it to the starting line.

So hat’s off to Dick Gaynor, win or lose, he’s in the fight and making himself known. I wish more of us would take the time, risk the effort, and put ourselves out there in a similar manner. I’ve been down the road he’s walking now, and I know it can be a daunting journey at times. It’s uphill much of the way, at least early on it is. But that just makes the successes that will come that much more gratifying. And there will be success. As long as we keep trying, keep making ourselves known, and keep making it clear that aviation isn’t just good for us – it’s good for everyone – we can’t help but rack up success after success in the long run.

So, whaddaya say, do you have the itch to run for office, or volunteer for public service, in order to tell the story of general aviation and support it in the public arena? I hope you do. And I hope you’ll let the rest of us know when you make that decision, and get moving on it – like Dick Gaynor did.


  1. says

    I am happy to see more pilots become involved with local government. When I was first elected to the Scottsdale, AZ City Council in 2002 (I have since been re-elected twice) I was thrown into a fight to protect Scottsdale Airport from a small but vocal group of residents who wanted to restrict or even close the airport. The lesson I learned from that is pilots and aircraft owners, like it or not, have no choice but to be involved in local politics if they want to continue flying. Unless you are fortunate enough to own your own 40-acre property in the wilderness where you can build your own airstrip, you are dependent on some local government to provide or allow your airport. That makes local government very important to general aviation pilots because, without an airport to fly from at an affordable cost and with minimal restrictions, your airplane is just a giant, expensive paperweight. So good luck, Mr. Gaynor, and if I can help you in any way feel free to contact me.

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