Celebrate ourselves

When Orville and Wilbur Wright wandered out onto the dunes of Kill Devil Hills to make their first powered flight, there were no crowds of well wishers cheering them on. Reporters were elsewhere covering stories that seemed more important than two odd ducks trying to do the impossible.

Their greatest moment happened in almost complete isolation. Yet they persisted and succeeded not for the fame, but for the opportunity to prove their point.

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How to create a fan

The quest for the World Cup has come to an end. Germany took home the title after working their way up through the ranks, win by win. In the end they took out Argentina in a 1–0 contest that left billions of people around the world glued to their television sets.

Incidentally, this column doesn’t have the first thing to do with soccer. So read on with confidence. If you’re into aviation, this one’s for you.

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Respectfully yours

Now and then I’ll receive a piece of mail that contains a dollar bill. These tend to be from companies that want information from me. You probably get similar mailers arriving at your home or office. Most of us do.

What I find intriguing about these dollars in the mail is that I cannot recall the name of a single company I’ve received one from. I remember the dollar, but only in generic terms. Why they chose to send cash through the mail, or what they hope to impress upon me is a mystery. I simply don’t retain that information because it’s not important to me and they make no attempt to make it important to me. Even though they gave me money I have no recollection of them, no brand loyalty, no sense of purpose or belonging.

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Partnerships: The difference between a moped and a Ducati

Late in 2013 a study was released by PricewaterhouseCoopers that ranked Florida above 49 other states as the most attractive location for aviation entities to do business. Governor Rick Scott took the report in stride, suggesting it was an indicator his business-friendly policies were poised to reap economic rewards for the Sunshine State.

Aviation has been big news in Florida for 100 years. It was in 1914 when Tony Jannus began hauling passengers across Tampa Bay in an undeniably spartan Benoist. In the process he established the first scheduled airline passenger service — the world’s first airline.

One hundred years later aviation is still a big deal in Florida, and it’s getting bigger. Smack dab in the center of the state lies Lakeland. Home of the Detroit Tigers spring training facility, it’s also home to the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo. Both are major tourist draws that are well known.

What’s less well known is that the annual fly-in is, in fact, a major fundraising event that supports educational programs year round. And those educational programs have become the basis for a movement that could have statewide —and potentially a national — impact.
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The four secret steps to becoming a good old boy

In your town, right now, there is a good old boy network firmly in place. I know this because there is a good old boy network in place in every town. Whether you’re in New York City, Los Angeles, Clarksville, Texas, or Carrington, North Dakota, there is a group of men and women known locally — and not always affectionately — as the good old boys network.

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Courting integrity for the long haul

My family is probably as dysfunctional and weird as any. Yet for all the squawking and sarcasm and occasional emotional outbursts, we still care for one another. You might even say we love each other. Certainly, there’s a sense of trust and acceptance that defies logic. I’m proud of that. I suspect most parents feel similarly when reflecting on their own family units.

Since they were very young we’ve instilled this concept into our children and into ourselves. We don’t lie. Not even a little bit. Honesty matters. In fact I’ll go so far as to say that integrity is the only thing any man or woman can actually   keep — if they choose to.

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AirVenture tempts teachers with freebies

You don’t have to be a pilot or an aircraft mechanic to enjoy the largest general aviation gathering in North America. To prove that point, Build A Plane, in partnership with AirVenture, is offering teachers a very special perk for attending the festivities on Tuesday, July 28, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. For the fifth year, they are sponsoring Teacher’s Day to share information on how aviation can be used in the classroom to enhance STEM curriculum and engage students.

“Teacher’s Day is free and open to any teacher who’d like to attend,” says Build A Plane’s Executive Director Debbie Phillips. “We would like anyone who’s able to be a part of it.”

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Can aviation get its mojo back?

There was a time not so long ago when aviation was cool. It was hip. It was a celebrity in its own right.

Being photographed next to an airplane was a dream come true. Being one of the lucky few who got to actually fly from here to there, faster than any train or car could transport you, was treat that would be told and retold at water-coolers and cocktail parties and pretty much anywhere else people gathered. If you actually knew how to fly you were a virtual demi-god, celebrated by friends and neighbors. You were feted by family. Aviation was king.

It ain’t that way no more.

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Motivation, inspiration, and big ol’ dreams

I’ve just returned from a beautiful morning chat on my friend Ben’s front porch. Ben’s 87 years old. As a solid member of that group known as the greatest generation, he fills the bill well.

A southern boy born into hard work and low expectations, he went off to war as a young man in his teens. He found himself in the Pacific where he did things and saw things most of us would rather not know about.

But he soldiered on, did his duty, came home, went to college, and made quite a success of himself. In fact, he’s something of an institution in my neck of the woods.

Among Ben’s great contributions to the world is the love of flight a handful of middle-aged men share. [Read more...]

Welcome to the minority

When the topic of aviation comes up, it is almost a given that the conversation will come around to pilots. Even if the discussion isn’t about flying itself, the chatter still turns to pilots. Whether you’re interacting with an aviation-centric audience or a rabble that wants to shut down the local airport, the person most identified with the airport is a pilot.

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