General aviation is something of a massive storage locker that houses a plethora of game plans designed to save the industry. It seems as if virtually everyone has one they’ve been working on, refining, honing to perfection. And the story of each plan is the same. It’s better. It will achieve more impressive results. Honest, it will.
There’s only one problem. For all the rock’em sock’em can’t-possibly-fail game plans on the table, there’s no team willing to take the field and implement them. We’re all chiefs with no indians. This is a reality that presents the industry with quite a conundrum. How do you save a group of people who refuse to be saved? How do you help people who decline any help?
We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s human nature.
Our situation reminds me of one faced by a friend who grew up in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans. As Hurricane Katrina bore down on his hometown he implored his family to leave. They had a car, so they had the means to leave. They had enough money on hand to buy gas and snacks for the drive. They had family out of state willing to take them in. Yet they stayed put while a hurricane tracked right toward them, bringing devastation and death to their neighborhood.
Their decision to stay didn’t work out well.
My friend was upset, as you can imagine. But he shared a perspective with me that has stuck with me ever since. “When you walk out into your yard and hear the sound of a ship’s horn, and you realize you have to look up to see the ship, that’s a pretty good indication you should move.”
Those houses on Deslonde Street are built on stilts for a reason. And that reason ain’t fashionable, it’s about survival.
That’s general aviation. We’re in denial. We’re all smarter than the market. We’ve all got a better idea than the alphabet organizations we belong to, or used to belong to. If it was up to us fuel would be cheaper, hangar rents would be reduced, insurance costs would be slashed, and the FBO would greet us with a red carpet and a flurry of rose petals every time we taxi up to buy five gallons of mogas, avgas, JetA, or just grab a free cup of coffee.
Every one of us has a better, more practical idea, yet we never seem to have what it takes to put that idea into action. Until we do, we’re sure as shootin’ not going to help anyone else get their plan working. What would be the point?
Imagine for a moment what the Super Bowl would look like if the players took the same attitude. The players come out of the locker room, line up on the sidelines and wait for the kick-off. Well, most of the players come out. A handful never made it out of the locker room. As they see it, they’re second and third stringers who probably won’t see any action anyhow. What’s the point of suiting up just to sit on the bench? It’s embarrassing. Screw that. So the 53 man roster slips to 45.
No problem. The coach can make the game plan work with 45 guys.
The kicker boots the pigskin, it sails into the end zone, and so the ref brings it out to the 20 yard line. The teams line up to play. Except they don’t.
The offensive right guard just found out from an online post that the offensive left guard makes almost double his salary. So he dawdles on the sidelines trying to get his agent on the phone. One of the wide receivers is concerned the reality show he was signed to do in the off-season might not be as classy as he expected it to be. Worried that his future earning potential might be hurt by the perception he willingly participated in a second-tier program on a third-rate network, he’s distracted. The text to his manager should only take seconds but with gloves on it’s hard to type on his iPhone. The spellcheck keeps changing his message. In a huff, he leaves the field.
The tight end decides the coach isn’t treating him right and spends the first 10 minutes of the game trying to get the tackles to boycott management with him.
The quarterback decides to get a jump on his vacation and signals that he’s ready to film his, “I’m going to Disney World,” shot four hours early. As the remainder of his teammates mill about the field aimlessly, the center gets into position, grabs the ball, and awaits the signal. And 20 minutes later he’s on the cart headed for the locker room with a strained quadriceps, never having gotten off the first snap.
Upon witnessing the mayhem on the field the announcers in the booth unanimously agree to place the blame for this fiasco squarely at the feet of the owners. Departing early they sign off the broadcast declaring, “Football sure isn’t what it used to be.”