There are two kinds of GA pilots in the world. The first group is the experienced pilot who wants to continue flying as often and for as many years as possible. A major deterrent to meeting that goal is cost. Renting an airplane at $100 an hour or more is difficult for many of us. And let’s face it, $100 per hour has become a pretty attractive rate in many parts of the country.
The conundrum of the GA industry is daunting. Solutions abound, but many of the players are not paying attention to their peers. In fact, many of the players are openly — and counter-productively — competing with their peers under the theory: If I can harm your business, my business will benefit.
Not so. Not nearly so.
There is a important difference between critical thinking and being critical. Knowing that difference can be the deciding factor in whether you are successful at affecting change or become an ineffectual aggravating irritant.
Now that I have your attention…it will come as no surprise to learn I have a tendency to critique almost every aspect of the world around me. Don’t get too excited about the admission, however. You probably do the same thing. We all do. It’s human nature.
Periodically my eye is drawn to a bumper sticker while I’m out driving. Many are aviation oriented — or at least many of the stickers I see are. The slogans are familiar to you as well, I’m sure: “I’d rather be flying.” “My other car is an airplane.” “I love jet noise.”
Stewart Beckett Sr. was born into a different world than the one you and I live in. He came into being in 1898 not far from St. Petersburg, Florida. The family wasn’t wealthy, but they were reasonably well off. Which is to say they lived in a house, ate on a regular basis, and managed to survive the maladies of the day — at least most of them did. Not all of his siblings survived to become adults.
Earlier this month the city council of Santa Monica, California, decided to strike a blow for economic parity by instituting landing fees at the airport. As a former city commissioner of a small city that owns an airport, I can say this about their decision: It’s short-sighted.
Bear with me now, things are going to get a little rocky right up front. This column is going to be rough, but then life is rough. We need to be aware, be prepared, and when necessary be capable of protecting ourselves.
That’s true on every level. Personally, professionally, and even in our hobbies. Somebody has to have their head on a swivel looking out for threats and finding methods of mitigating risk. There is light at the end of the tunnel though. So hang in there.
There are some among us who feel aviation is in decline. I disagree, of course. You might even say I famously disagree, since I am prone to regular outbursts of unrestrained optimism in a public forum. It would be fair to go so far as to say I possess an almost evangelical zeal for aviation and its power to transform and enrich the lives of those who participate in it.
Do I overstate the point? I don’t think so.
If you hang around the airport long enough you’ll hear all sorts of interesting news. For example, just last week a local stopped into my office to ask about the new seaplane base being built on Lake Hartridge. The lake sits across 21st Street NW, which borders the airport on the eastern side. This individual explained in great detail how the seaplane base was going to be expansive, with ramps and an electric gate that would allow seaplanes to taxi up out of the lake, across the street, and onto the airport grounds.
It was a fascinating story.
It occurs to me that aviation has been a player in the entertainment industry for some time. And I’m not just talking about stunt pilots plowing Jenny’s into barns for the spectacular visual it creates when a moving vehicle slams into a structure that’s not meant to move. I’m talking about television, baby.