A little solidarity can go a long way


When you get right down to it, politics are not really about Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians, Socialists and Capitalists. It’s about people. Individual people and how they interact with other individual people, and how those people plan, debate, and ultimately work together as their numbers grow into an ever larger group.

The study of politics can be as simple and basic as a discussion about how people interact in groups. There are politics at play between husbands and wives. Politics are in the mix when employers deal with employees, and vice versa. [Read more…]

General aviation: Get evangelical about it

First ride

General aviation — get evangelical about it.

This may seem unlikely, even inconceivable to some, but I have been fortunate enough to make a career out of being excited. It’s a pretty good career, too.

I spend the bulk of every day doing something I really love to do. I work with people I’m glad to be interacting with, and I get to write about, talk about, demonstrate, and actually do the things I am enthused to share with others.

To be honest, anyone could do it. Yet, few do. I wonder why. [Read more…]

Nostalgia for your coffee table


There was a time when aviation was an almost impossible dream. Millions, no, billions of people around the world were aware of the airplane, but most didn’t have the means to experience flight for themselves. That was the way of the world between 1945 and 1975.

Then something miraculous happened. The Boeing 747 became ubiquitous in the commercial market, lowering prices, expanding opportunity, and truly making air-travel something the average man or woman could afford at long last.

Everything was different from that point on. Yet, there was a time before. A time that is nearly forgotten now. A golden hour for commercial aviation. [Read more…]

General aviation goes clubbing

For some time now I’ve been singing the praises of the flying club. Not any particular flying club, mind you — although there are some excellent examples out there — just flying clubs in general. They work. ‘Nuff said.

Don’t believe me? Read on. [Read more…]

Have you ever considered teaching?

You may have heard somewhere that a pilot shortage is looming. Personally, I believe that rumor to be true. I also believe there will be challenges in finding qualified people to fill skilled positions as aircraft mechanics, engineers, designers, administrators, and maybe even line personnel. The future is a blank slate. However, we can affect it if we choose to. [Read more…]

Do unto others, and all that sort of thing


You know the drill. The neighbors complain about the airport because it’s populated entirely by spoiled, rich white guys who get their kicks by flying low over the neighborhood and making lots of noise.

We can disagree, we can explain, we can put thousands of hours of effort into going door to door to tell our story – but none of that will change the general public’s disdain for the local general aviation airport. We’re the pariah of the municipality. Noisy, expensive, and very nearly useless.

Or at least that’s how most of our neighbors see us. [Read more…]

Go where your heart takes you

By FlugKerl2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It will come as no shock to regular readers of this column that I am on a mission. My goal, and yes I have absolutely chosen to accept it, is to shepherd as many aviation enthusiasts into the industry as full participants as I possibly can.

If they learn to fly, that’s great. But if they choose to fill other roles in the industry, that’s fine with me, too. Whether they involve themselves professionally or on an occasional basis as a hobby, I consider it a win whenever someone new breaks out of the pedestrain day-to-day grind and takes to the skies in an aircraft.

It’s an awesome job, and thank goodness I get to do it. There is nothing I’d rather be doing. Truly. [Read more…]

Anachronism or genius?


The world of 100 years ago was quite different than the one we inhabit today. There was no central heat or air-conditioning back then. Private dwellings and places of business were drafty and cold, or insufferably hot, depending on the season. Distances were covered on foot, or on horseback, or in a wagon that bumped along a dirt road with all the grace and poise of a bag of rocks falling down a stairwell. Electricity was scarce at best.

So with all that going against it, why is the past so intriguing? Maybe because it’s known – or at least partially known, and yet it’s still up for discussion. What happened is generally a given. But why it happened, or how it happened is often as much a mystery to us as it was to the bystanders of the day.

Case in point: I give you the Benoist flying boat that established the first scheduled commercial air route in the world. The year was 1914, the place was Tampa Bay, Florida. And the pilot was Tony Jannus, a daredevil of a man who flew airplanes when airplanes were barely understood. [Read more…]

One becomes two, then becomes a movement

Camp 1

While there are plenty of reasons to hang your head and lament the difficulty of making a difference in your community, it is not impossible to have a positive effect. Hard? You betcha. Impossible? Not hardly.

There is reason for real hope even when the hill seems unimaginably steep and the burden feels too heavy to carry one more step because, in all honesty, one person can do a lot. That’s especially true if they employ the massive, almost unstoppable power of the multiplier effect.

Let me give you an example. [Read more…]

The secret is out — finally


Shhhh. I’m going to trust you to keep this to yourself. It’s a secret. It has been for years. Yet, I’m going to tell you the truth. Here. Now. Only a few sentences hence.

Now, if I’m going to be completely honest, I have to admit the paragraph you just read is hyperbole. I’ve used a writer’s trick to get you reading, and hopefully keep you reading. Exaggeration is my tool of choice. By elevating something that’s largely unknown to the status of a well-kept secret, I’ve grabbed your attention a little more forcefully than I might have done if I chose more passive words, or a less impassioned approach. Good.

What I have to share is important. It truly is. For while it might not really be a closely held secret that’s been shielded from the wider public, it is information that’s unknown in the wider world and directly affects the future of general aviation in a very real way.

You’re still with me, right? Excellent.

In only a matter of weeks the second largest aviation-related event in North America will take place in my back yard. It’s called SUN ‘n FUN and it’s been one of the highlights of my year for more than two decades. You’ve probably heard of it too. Hopefully, you’ve been there to experience it for yourself. It is, in a word, amazing. [Read more…]