There are plans afoot

On Friday afternoon I enjoyed an interesting conversation with a big deal muckity-muck from one of the major aviation entities in the business. One of the things we talked about was how we can work together to get more people involved in aviation. We both had ideas, and we both saw merit in what the other had to say.

Earlier today I have the pleasure of chatting for a while with another big deal muckity-muck from an entirely different major aviation entity. We talked about much the same thing. How can we encourage people to get involved in aviation? How can we help them to make their involvement more satisfying? What can we do to show them a path that gets them to where they want to go, affordably?

The conversations continue. There are plans afoot. Plan A is good, as is Plan B, C, D, E, and so on. Each plan has its strengths and each has its weaknesses. But they all have value.

Fortunately for us, there are more plans in the works than there are letters in the alphabet. Maybe you have one of your own. If you do, I hope you’re working on it diligently. If you don’t, I hope you’ll find somebody who is working on a plan of their own and help them make it happen.

To be perfectly honest with you, it is rare that a day goes by when I don’t talk to somebody, somewhere, and discuss at length the options and alternatives available to get people involved in aviation, keep them involved in aviation, and assure them a high-quality experience with the industry. That matters to me. It matters to a lot of people, frankly — most of whom are people you have never heard of and would not recognize as being famous, particularly important, or influential. That’s too bad, too. Because in aviation we’re all important and influential — at least we have the potential to be.

Perhaps you don’t believe me when I say that we all have the potential to be important and influential. I’m serious, though. Truly I am. And there is historical precedence for the idea. Consider Bucky Fuller if you will.

You know Bucky’s work. You’ve seen it repeatedly over the course of your life. You may have even personally experienced his work up close. If you have it’s almost certain that you gawked and marveled at his achievements. They’re stellar, unique, jaw-dropping, iconic, and just flat out amazing.

Yet for all his brilliance, the work and legacy of Bucky Fuller almost didn’t exist. Because Bucky the mythic legend of a man who single-handedly reorganized the way we look at structures and their purpose — the man whose architectural insights revolutionized the design and construction of large, strong, open, resilient structures like SpaceShip Earth at Disney World, and made possible the assembly of small, inexpensive housing that is functional and efficient — almost did himself in out of desperation and sorrow.

It took an epiphany to shake Bucky out of his funk. Poverty, professional stagnation, and the death of a child all combined to rob him of his potential. Things weren’t going well for Bucky, or his family. And then a thought occurred to him. The idea was incredibly simple, and astoundingly complex at the same time — much like the issue we aviation enthusiasts struggle with year after year.

Rather than belabor the point and muddle it up, I’ll let Bucky speak for himself. In an extensive interview published in the February 1972 issue of Playboy magazine, Bucky had this to say about the life-affirming perspective that revitalized him and got him back into the game at a championship level”

“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Elizabeth again: The whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing on the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving that little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. It takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole ship of state is going to turn around. So I said, “Call me Trim Tab.”

That sentiment was strong enough that “Call me TrimTab,” is etched into Bucky’s tombstone. He passed away in 1983, just shy of his 88th birthday.

So with both those pieces of information in mind — the one that tells aviation folks like you who are routinely hatching and implementing plans to enhance the ranks and the value of aviation to individual people, and the one that suggests the individual can be an astoundingly powerful force for change, if he or she chooses to be — it begs the question…do you choose to be the agent of change? Or is your preference to stand on the sidelines and point out the error of other’s ways?

There are plans afoot. Are your plans directed at helping advance the plans on the table, at launching something innovative of your own, or simply to snipe from the sidelines? The answer matters to all of us in the long run. So let the rest of us know what you’re thinking, and how we can help you get your plans off the ground.


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



People who read this article also read articles on airparks, airshow, airshows, avgas, aviation fuel, aviation news, aircraft owner, avionics, buy a plane, FAA, fly-in, flying, general aviation, learn to fly, pilots, Light-Sport Aircraft, LSA, and Sport Pilot.




  1. Rpm says

    Yes plans are definitely afoot.  I am honored to be part of such a movement in the Aviation Access Project.  We believe the problems run deep, but they are correctable. The solutions themselves run deep, so if the aviation ego and arrogance can be kept in check, the solutions might make sense and gain widespread favor.  

    Would enjoy further discussion to give you some things to be encouraged about.

  2. Rod Beck says

    I’ve been following many “feature” articles of this very fine publication for some time, several by Mr. Beckett, whereas the theme is “spreading the (flying) gospel” to  the non-flying public in hopes that a few would have a NEED or WANT for aviation.

    I have yet, however, to see ONE comment citing the problem as a MARKETING one – I’ll try to elaborate a little here.

    Lets step back a minute and ASK a few funamental questions that a marketing/business person would need to know in order to “quality” the potential aviation consumer and there potential:

    1. WHO has the greatest NEED – not want.
    2. Identify market segmentation
        A. Flight students – (LSA, Private, Commercial, etc)
        B. Aircraft owners – recreational
        C.    “          “         business/commercial

    Now, rather than focusing on those individuals who may have a “want” for flying, or simply no NEED, how many out there in the US population, once presented to them, have a ULTILITY need for GA – we really don’t know, do we – but probably more than you think!

    I have further concluded the greater the utility VALUE of an aircarft, the longer the “life cycle” of the owner. That is, there’s a direct relationship here; the greater the value (cost) of ones aircraft, the greater the utility value and duration; the LESS the ultility value, the LOWER the cost of the aircraft and short liver duration – make any sense? “One hundred dollar hamburger run versus a 600-700+ trip to the “summer” cottage?

    It would be very cost effective for fractional/partnership ownership of an airplane or a flying club concept, particualy for the recreational flyer for the genric “172”. Again, here you would need several folks as opossed to say one single owner for a Cirrus or Bonanza or light twin.

    Those who have a need, the young person who wants to be a professioanl airline or corporate had a NEED to complete his/her training; the small business owner who has found GA offers far more flexabilty then the airlines when geting around to his/her several regional retail store loactions in a Cessna 414.

    Perhaps it’s time to concentrate on SELLING GA and its many benefits to those who have a REAL geniune NEED and stop wasting time convincing those who don’t!

    The remainder, the “WANT’S”, will be there any way.


  3. Len says

    Mr. Beckett is correct.  While the aviation economic economy goes through deeper cycles than most, now as we are emerging from the depths in aviation and growing stronger nationally (I disagree with 90% of what the previous poster said) is the time to re-examine the aviation agenda. To me, the problem is simple, and the fix even simpler. First, the economics of a small industry work against us. Fewer pilots means fewer planes, fewer accessories, fewer everything, pricier gas, thus hurting the economies of scale. So, we need more pilots. Let’s keep on doing everything we know works in aviation in that regard. EAA and AOPA have programs. Let us as active pilots support them. Shame on you if you have not flown some Young Eagles or otherwise introduced new folks to flying! It is ALL of our responsibility!
    Next, we need to reduce the 80% (!!!) dropout rate in primary flight training. I work for a community college and we would never survive with such a number. The state would shut us down and I would not blame them one bit. What a waste! Finally, we need to make aircraft ownership affordable DESPITE the economies of scale. We need to seriously ramp up a culture change that says “shared ownership is a good thing.” Fractional ownership and the resultant professional management and shared costs can drive ownership up, make it affordable to many more, and give the student pilot something to aspire to.  Now, we get our ticket and embrace the “joys” of renting a tired out ramp queen that is older than most of the pilots flying her. 

  4. Kent Misegades says

    Jamie, I love your enthusiasm and creativity.   I personally think we’ve done enough the past few decades to encourage more people to fly, and it’s time to focus on those who still do it before we lose more of them.  The fundamentals are different today than they were in the boom years of the 60s and 70s.  I remember them well working as a teenager at a major FBO/flight school in Louisville in 1973-1974. Taxes were much lower, the cost of living was lower, families did fine on one income and still had free time to fly.  We had fewer distractions, which I would equate to hundreds of garbage channels on TV and mind-numbing computer/video games including – yes – flight simulators.  We were confident of our country’s future and the opportunities to improve our own lot in life through hard work.  We now have a president who vilified G.A. in his inauguration speech and who thinks that socialism – spreading the wealth – is the secret to success.  It is no wonder that pilots and wanna-be pilots are hunkered down and counting their pennies – and prayers – in the hopes that our nation survives.  Flying is one of those things that most of us can put aside in tough times, and our nation hasn’t seen this kind of economy and grim future since the Great Depression.  I think we need to be grateful that more pilots have not given up their passion; I just hope we can get them back in air before it’s too late.  This includes me – lost my plane to an in-flight fire in 2009 (none hurt) and I chose not to replace it but keep my powder dry until after the election this November.  If nothing changes politically, I think we can pack it all in.

    • gbin says

      “… lost my plane to an in-flight fire in 2009…”

      Hmmm, that would have been right after Obama took office…  Wow, he really is out to get general aviation, isn’t he?  Even to the point of hunting pilots down one at a time!  I’m glad you survived his attack on you, Mr. Misegades!

      Don’t let politically partisan paranoid fantasies such as Mr. Misegades’ spoil your day, Mr. Beckett.  Thanks for another fine essay!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *