While listening to the inimitable Clark Howard, a popular radio personality who offers financial advice, I learned an interesting tidbit of information. It seems auto loans are being taken out for longer and longer periods of time. The average auto loan is now in the five and a half year range, but some extend for as many as seven years. Seven years! For a car loan. Consider me amazed.
Like it or not, most of us are followers. That’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It’s just a thing. A description of the way things are. A stand-alone fact. Most of us follow someone else, a political office holder, an employer, a manager, a spouse.
Among us there are leaders, but they are few. I’m talking about real leaders, not people with a title and their name in gold leaf on a door. Real leaders are rare. Paul Poberezny was a leader. He founded the Experimental Aircraft Association in the basement of his home. It would be hard to find less impressive surroundings. Yet the humble address and the cramped workspace wasn’t the point. Paul had a message to share, a belief that he didn’t just espouse, he lived. Paul got a crazy idea in his head that people could, and maybe even should, build their own aircraft and fly them.
It is well known in most circles that airlines travel on highways in the sky. Admittedly, most folks don’t know those highways are called airways, but the name is logical, whether the general public knows it or not.
However, few have made the obvious connection between the highway in the sky concept, and the airport in their town. Perhaps this is because aircraft, unlike automobiles, can choose to use the highway or go off-road (VFR) at will. And unlike automobile users, there are massive numbers of pilots flying off-road (VFR) every day, from coast to coast.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…]
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.
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.