Poor little rich Americans

As we slide into the holiday season with the aroma of fresh baked pies and warm, happy families surrounding us, it’s worth reflecting on the world around us and the lives we live.

The United States and each of the 50 states that make up this grand assemblage of territories we choose to call home exists as an experiment. Historically we have been powerful economically, militarily, in terms of industrial might, and by making the most of the creative impulses of an astoundingly diverse population. Perhaps more than any other place on earth, we have invited the dreamer, the ne’er do well, the oddball, and the downtrodden to come live among us.

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People are talking

Thanks to the benefits of some decent parenting at the hands of my mother, who is a teeny, tiny woman with exemplary manners, I am a reasonably humble man. You will not find me standing on a stump telling the world what an amazing individual I am. There are two reasons for that, really. First, I’m not that amazing. Second, the women in my life, of which there are many, would gang up in a heartbeat to point out a series of flaws I possess that are so deep and so catastrophically damaging I might never be able to leave the house again.

Perhaps I’m overstating the point. But you know what I mean.

The crux of all this build-up is that I do not typically make a point of drawing attention to myself. Not intentionally, anyway. I do however make it a point to step up and speak in glowing terms about the Polk Aviation Alliance, an organization that is unique, growing, and finding real success.

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Observations and invitations

Attached to the main administration building at the Santa Monica Airport in Southern California is an observation deck. It’s a wide concrete structure with a curved metal railing that allows excellent views of the area, reaching from the Hollywood sign in the northeast all the way around to the Pacific Ocean on the southwest. A bleacher style seating structure provides a reasonably comfortable place to sit and watch the action on the airport.

That’s where I met Adam and Zoe. Adam is a software designer who grew up in Santa Monica. He’s been stopping at the airport for much of his life to watch airplanes fly, daydream about becoming a pilot, and generally enjoy a sunny afternoon.

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Tag team activism

The main hangar space at San Luis Jet Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif., was packed last weekend. A good 300 aviation enthusiasts came from far and wide to rub shoulders, commiserate, learn, be motivated, and be inspired to be more effective advocates for general aviation. They came to have a good time, too. And they did.

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Yeah, that’s not there anymore…

Normally I write this column in my office in central Florida. I’ve got one at Gilbert Field in Winter Haven, and another in my home where I do a considerable amount of my writing. It’s just more comfortable there. Let’s face it, there’s no place as inviting or as comfortable as home — except perhaps for our memories.

Thanks to the human brain’s almost staggering capacity to correct for errors, upsets, and ugliness, life is never more beautiful or satisfying than it is when viewed through the prism of our memory.

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We remember the bad, forget the good

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Although it is not scheduled to be released until January 2014, I have just finished reading “Fireball, Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3″ by Robert Matzen. His research is impressive.

Rather than dwell on the superficial or get bogged down on the sensational aspects of the story, Matzen treats the subjects like real people, getting right to the heart of the men and women the story revolves around.

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Maybe the O stands for opportunity

Next week, Fort Worth, Texas, will fill up with pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, writers, reporters, business owners, spouses, friends, and all the assorted characters who travel along with the big aviation enthusiast road show. The draw is the AOPA Summit, an annual gathering of the faithful, the hopeful, and the not-entirely-satisfied who all have aspirations for a more vibrant general aviation environment.

Unlike all previous Summits, this one is different. It is the last of its kind. [Read more…]

Snowballs and dominos

It has been said, what goes up must come down. The statement is so obvious that it strikes us as a truism, something so apparent that it’s legitimacy is self-evident. Then again, not everything is as it seems.

As an example, you may have noted earlier this month a small spacecraft named Voyager 1 departed our solar system for parts unimaginable. The promise of Star Trek is coming true, at least on a limited, unmanned basis. Be that as it may, Voyager has actually transitioned from the east coast of Florida where it last stood upon the earth, into a realm where basic concepts like up and down have no meaning at all.

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Go west, old dude…

One of the great advantages of writing professionally is that we who scribble ideas down for others to read rarely have to face those others in person. We don’t have to worry about an errant idea sending you to the refrigerator to ferret out some overly ripe fruits or vegetables that you can hurl in our general direction as an indication of your displeasure with our prose. We don’t get too many exuberant pats on the back, either. But avoiding the first scenario makes missing out on the second seem like small potatoes.

Occasionally, I will break with tradition and appear in public. Most often these forays out into the world involve a grocery store, a coffee shop, my neighborhood seaplane base, or the local FBO.

But this October I’ll be wandering a bit farther from my generally well beaten path. I’m headed to San Luis Obispo, California, where the California Pilots Association is holding its annual convention and meeting, called California Dreamin’. If you’re in the vicinity drop by. This promises to be a good time for people with aviation on their minds.

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