Time and talent

The church my family attends makes available to all comers a time and talent sign-up form. Our church, like most churches, has far more needs, and desires, than the paid staff can, or should, reasonably accomplish. As a result, we’ve created this sign-up form to tap the collective knowledge and labor base that is the membership.

The aviation-related organization I can think of that taps the time and talent of its members the best is the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF). While its scope is narrow — backcountry and recreational airstrip accessibility — its needs, like all organizations, are broad — advocacy, fund-raising, member management, communications and more. RAF leadership has learned what gets its members excited and targets their tasks. They know it makes little sense to ask all members to fly to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress when they know a few who are more than willing to answer that call.

As we were walking home from church one Sunday, I got to thinking about the potential for a time and talent sign-up for aviation. While our scope varies by areas of interest, I believe all — or almost all — aviators would like to contribute to the broad mission of making all aspects of aviation accessible to whoever so desires.

Inside this broad mission, we would need to better refine to areas of narrower scope, such as general aviation, business aviation, flight instruction, airports, ground support, maintenance, advocacy, promotion and public relations, and more…many many more.

But here’s the thing: There are many people with skills and interest that can help multiple, seemingly less connected, areas of focus.

Within the general aviation focus, for example, are people interested in organizing and attending fly-ins. While fly-in flavors differ around the country, the underlying infrastructure is similar across the board. All need insurance, detailed procedures (for both normal and emergency operations), ticket and exhibit sales, and support, promotion, food, drink, and more.

If we tapped the collective knowledge base that is the pilot population, isn’t it conceivable that we could make hosting a fly-in easier, more fun and potentially more profitable (if that’s the goal)? If fly-ins are easier to host and more fun, they will be better attended and more effective, which is, of course, a good thing.

And is hosting a fly-in much different than hosting a trade show or a safety seminar or an airport open house? While some aspects won’t overlap, a great many will, thus the potential for us all to get better.

And there isn’t much of leap from these kinds of events to member organizations like the RAF or the myriad state pilot associations. You get the idea. Time and talent…we all have some of each… if only we knew where to turn for maximum impact.

Ben Sclair is Publisher of General Aviation News.


  1. Ben Rolfe says

    So Ben, good idea, why not get it started?
    GA News could host a sign up and info exchange page. Simple functions: sign up with you are able and intersted in helping with, some keywords that can be searched like “small flyin” and maybe a discussion forum page to exchange ideas.
    Good ideas need good execution!

    • says

      Right you are Ben… I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of that. Simply have to see if it can be made to work within the scope of all else we are working on. Ideas without execution are… just ideas.

  2. says

    I knew exactly what you were talking about. Too many times in aviation we let ego get in the way and fail to see what is really behind the passion and caring – a “heart” for it. I long to see more of this kind of heart and less of the “head” that most guys like to hide behind. There are many of us out here. Some of us are even building an aviation-rescuing business based on the heart. One of my heroes, Truett Cathy of Chick-Fil-A fame, proved it can be done. Heart, Faith, Integrity, Openness, Honesty, Caring. They have an success model that I am attracted to almost daily to eat at and support.

    Keep that kind of heart going…and for showing it in places other than just church. May we all be better for it.

    God bless.


  3. Jerome Cain says

    Ben – Thank you for your fine assessment of the RAF and its volunteers. I helped co-found the RAF back in 2003 and have watched it grow and mature in the intervening years. I have now stepped back as its first Director Emeritus, but am continually amazed at what has been and continues to be accomplished with just volunteer effort. Your support and the support of other public and private entities have shown the RAF to be an organization that wants to work with each of our partners in a collaborative way to arrive at solutions that most reasonably meet the needs of all concerned. Thanks again for recognizing the time and talent of our many volunteers across the entiere nation, and even around the world. Wishing you and all your readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous Happy New Year.

  4. Mark Spencer says

    Hi Ben, Thanks for your comments! What an interesting parallel you use with your church! The AZ backcountry folks know that come Sunday morning Mark and Stefanie will be packing up the Cub and speeding (that’s a relative term) away to get back home in time for church. At times I arrive still in my orange shirt, having run into the bathroom and change into my “Sunday best.” My pastor is used to me smelling like camp fire, but what great pleasure I get out of the RAF mission. It is the only thing I do that is nearly as satisfying as serving in our little understaffed and overburdened country church. Your insight helped me realize how blessed I am to be part of both! FYI, As I sit here this morning, the GA News sits on my desk as I pick it up throughout the day to get little valuable tid bits. Keep up the good work!

  5. says

    Ben, Not sure that we at the RAF deserve to be held in the same context as your church of choice, but you are so correct in that if we would all do just a little then much will be done. The RAF appreciates you keeping us in your thoughts and holding us out as a model for them. Best of the holiday season to you and all your readers. You do a fine job. John McKenna

Leave a Reply

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