Brrrrr, ka-ching

If you’re connected to social media in any way, you’ve no doubt spent a good deal of time in recent weeks watching people get wet. Like flagpole sitting, goldfish swallowing, and stuffing as many college kids into a VW bug as possible, it’s something of a fad. Most commonly referred to as the “ice bucket challenge,” this ridiculous excuse for personal exhibitionism actually has roots in a noble cause.

Roots are one thing. Where the branches go is something else.

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Action, reaction, over-reaction

In the political arena opinions are rampant. Facts are often scarce, and statistics are often tweaked until reduced to little more than useless gibberish designed to support an otherwise unsupportable argument.

This is true in every town, every state, and every country. It’s a human trait, not a failing of the left or the right, the north or the south, the American or National league. It’s all of us. It’s you. It’s me.

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Transitions and trade-offs

Go with me on this. It’s a good story.

Annie was a 15-year-old mutt who came to us through the local pound. She was past her date for euthanization when we found her. Somehow her paperwork had been lost, buying her an extra day or two. Thank goodness. When my wife and I walked into the shelter, our two young daughters in tow, there was no doubt which dog lit their hearts on fire. It was Annie. Anastasia, actually. But we called her Annie. My youngest in a fit of rhyming glory dubbed her Annie B’annie. I liked that.

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Our contradictory spectacle

It was an epiphany. Not to the extent of Archimedes jumping from the tub and running through the streets naked. For one thing, I was having lunch, not a bath. For another, I was not naked at any point during this story. And as many will attest, my running days are far behind me.

Still, the idea popped into my head fully formed. It was complete and self-contained. It was this: We, the aviation community, are pioneers of an evolutionary step in human history that most of the populace isn’t ready for yet.

Yeah, I know. It sounds self-serving and conceited. But it’s true. And we owe this revelation to monster trucks, NASCAR, and the Colosseum in Rome.

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What’d you say?

Several years ago I had the great pleasure of being a restoration specialist at Tom Reilly’s Warbird Museum in Kissimmee, Florida. It was there I got to put my Airframe and Powerplant certificate to work rebuilding a B-17, maintaining a trio of B-25s, beginning the restoration of a P-40, and generally fiddling with some really amazing aircraft.

Even better than working on the aircraft was the chance to meet and make friends with some truly talented and dedicated folks. Our crew came from all over the map. [Read more...]

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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