This network is open for business

A simple message can have far-reaching impact — just ask the readers of, who have found a way of networking online.

Now, there was a time not so long ago when the means to communicate a message was far less user friendly than it is today. Originally, the only way to let others know what you were thinking was to physically stand, or sit, or crouch in their presence and tell them verbally. This is a good system, unless you have bad news to share. The expression, “Don’t kill the messenger,” was once a literal expression, not a figurative one.

The weakness of this system is obvious. Other than the possibility of taking a knock on the head for delivering bad news, you could only reach very small groups with your message at any one time. To build a significant wave of public support for a concept, you’d have no choice but to go on a speaking tour from village to village, wearing out a lot of shoe leather, and making a lot of speeches.

Fortunately for us, technology is on our side. We have access to printing presses and the Internet. That gives us the ability to communicate internationally, and allows a cagey typist with a story to tell an opportunity to share that message with readers all over the globe, quickly, cheaply and, perhaps best of all, interactively.

Interaction. That’s what high quality communication is all about.

If this was a one-way means of reaching out to tell a story, it would have value. Heck, any form of honest, open communication has value — any marriage counselor could tell you that. But to have a means of communication that allows the instigator of the discussion to hear back from the audience — now that’s the birth of a whole new way of working.

We’re still in the early stages of a world where computers are ubiquitous and digital communication is commonplace. It’s starting to work for us, however. In fact, it’s really starting to heat up and help out. That’s especially true for niche groups, which we aviation enthusiasts most certainly are.

Let me give you an example of how a simple message can have far-reaching impact: In December I wrote a blog urging pilots to work in their own communities to establish a relationship with police, fire, and EMT workers who would become first responders should something truly unpleasant happen at the airport one day. My point was that we need to be proactive and reach out to establish those relationships early, before we need assistance. Because as anyone who has ever witnessed a crash, or a catastrophe of any type, that stressful time is a lousy environment to begin learning new information and implementing appropriate procedures.

I mentioned a fellow named Douglas Manuel in that post, because Douglas has gone above and beyond by developing a Powerpoint presentation that he has trotted out to his local emergency responders in an effort to acquaint them with the ways of aviation and aviators.

That’s good news. But there’s nothing shocking or mind bending about a writer sharing news about an individual who did something interesting or beneficial. What is good, and what really excites me about the communication and networking opportunities that we have available to us today, is that another fellow named Art Walker responded to that post on He simply left a comment under the article that asked the perfectly reasonable question: Would Mr. Manuel be willing to share a copy of that Powerpoint presentation so Mr. Walker could distribute it to emergency workers at the Los Angeles County Fire Department?

Now we’re talking. A writer makes a point, a reader writes to share an example of how he’s putting that idea into practice, the writer follows up with another column, and a third reader asks for assistance in doing the same darned thing.

That’s communication, folks. No, that’s better than mere communication. That’s networking. Now we’re hot. By using this platform, we’ve started a snowball rolling that can easily get bigger, and more powerful, and substantially more pervasive in your own community. The only thing missing is you. And I suspect you will find the way to your keyboard, or a notepad to get in on the fun when you realize that you can have a profound impact on how well your own city or town views and supports aviation – because you have access to some of the sharpest minds in the game – right here, through the network of enthusiasts and professionals who read and respond to General Aviation News.

Douglas Manuel has jumped on board with both feet, and I thank him for his effort. Art Walker has dipped a toe in the water with indications that he’ll be wading in deeper shortly. How about you? Do you think you could put together an action team that could get your town’s emergency workers thinking about how they could work with the airport crew more readily, and safely, should the need ever arise?

Grab your keyboard or pick up a pencil. Speak your piece, right here. Let’s see what kind of impact we can have with this network of ours.

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 also is an owner and contributor to You can reach Jamie at

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