While at SUN ’n FUN this year I stumbled one morning into the SAFE breakfast for a bite to eat and a bit of social engagement. SAFE is the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, a group dedicated to improving safety in aviation through improved educational options for pilots. Their goals are as noble as their efforts are noticeable in the industry.
While it’s common knowledge in the aviation community that SUN ’n FUN’s International Fly-In and Expo is massive, you may not know the whole story. Sure, you’ve read about the economic impact of this weeklong event creeping up on $70 million. You may have heard rumors of the staggering air traffic, too. The fly-in will see somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 aircraft operations during this one week period, making it the busiest airport on the planet – bar none.
There is a new compass rose plastered on the ramp outside my office window this morning. It’s roughly 50 feet in diameter, and at its center is an interlocking pair of 9s – representing the logo of the International Organization of Women Pilots. The 99s.
How this compass rose came to be on the ramp is a classic example of how individual people, acting cooperatively, can make a positive difference in their community. [Read more...]
Every now and then it’s good to challenge your views. If nothing else, it gives us the chance to grow. As we mature, our insights become more in depth, our tastes tend to be more nuanced, and our goals have us reaching higher and farther than a younger, less experienced version of ourselves might have thought possible. All of that tends to make our thought processes shift a bit.
With all the hand wringing and brow furrowing we’ve experienced lately as a result of the sequestration, it’s probably worth remembering that we live in the most technologically advanced, affluent, and safe period of human history.
While sitting at my desk last week, passing the time of day in a genial manner with one of the local CFIs, I noticed Rick Matthews wandering by my door. Being in a particularly social mood, I called him into the office. Rick is one of the creative minds behind the Aviation Access Project, but he’s based in Atlanta. What’s he doing in Winter Haven, Florida? I wondered.
It started with a conversation, which lead to a thought, which resulted in a plan. In no time at all that process caused an email to be drafted and sent to approximately a dozen hopefully receptive recipients. That was the start of the Polk Aviation Alliance, a diverse group of aviation professionals who have committed themselves to working together, collaboratively, to maximize the economic benefits of aviation to Polk County, Florida.
General Aviation is dead. If it’s not dead, it’s dying. If it’s not dying, it’s paralyzed with a sickness that manifests itself in the form of high prices, lousy service, ancient participants, and a generalized sense of ennui among the spectators at the fence line. You’ve read these charges, and I’m here to tell you they’re bunk.
This twisted logic is a prime example of pure, unadulterated, down-in-the-dumps nonsense. It’s the sort of thing that sounds good and can get a crowd to believe the hype. But it’s not true.
“A TFR is a regulatory action issued via the U.S. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) system to restrict certain aircraft from operating within a defined area, on a temporary basis, to protect persons or property in the air or on the ground.” So says AC91-63C, an advisory circular issued with the intent of illuminating the public on what the fuss is all about. For many, the TFR system works well, is understandable, and while it may be perceived as an inconvenience at times, it is widely believed to be a necessary one – especially when viewed from the perspective of a non-aviator.
On the other side of the fence, where GA tries to thrive, TFRs are a becoming a real irritant and a significant impediment to commerce. In Florida they’ve become almost ubiquitous, popping up with alarming frequency — sometimes remaining in place for days.
Two months from now we’ll all be talking about the SUN ’n FUN International Fly In and Expo in the past tense. It will be behind us, and if history repeats itself, SUN ’n FUN 2013 will be as successful as it has been in the past. This year will be different, however, because this year it will begin to become apparent that SUN ’n FUN and the Fly In are not a single event.