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 FlightMonkeys.com. You can reach him at Jamie@GeneralAviationNews.com
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