Stand back, Jack

It goes without saying, of course, but every now and then it’s a good idea to stand down, relax, maybe even take a nap. No matter what you’re working on, or how important you perceive it to be, there is a point of diminishing returns if you push too hard. You’re only human after all. If you don’t periodically stand back, take a break, and revive yourself through a vacation, a cooling off period, or just a diversion to other things, your work will suffer.

That’s true of your efforts on behalf of general aviation, too. [Read more...]

Be persistent, but be there

Someone asked me recently what I would say if asked for advice about how to be a good advocate for general aviation. The answer is simple — and it doesn’t matter if the advocacy you intend to do is on behalf of general aviation, a local bowling league, or anything else. The advice is the same either way: Be persistent, but be there.

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Wait your turn (or don’t)

The vast majority of us were raised by civilized mothers and fathers. That’s a good thing. We belonged to the Boy Scouts, or the Girl Scouts, or a sports team of some kind. And of course all of us had some sort of educational experience, which almost always consisted of at least one adult who served in a supervisory capacity, some bigger kids, some smaller kids, and you – somewhere in the middle of it all.

The common experience we all shared while involved in those activities was the noble and entirely democratic practice of standing in line, waiting our turn, and behaving ourselves.

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The lunch summit

Believe it or not, I am not universally loved and admired. None of us are, really, so I’m sure you’re not exactly bowled over by this admission. But once you step into the political arena, you more or less guarantee that you’re going to become a target to at least a few folks. Know that up front, but get involved anyway. The industry needs you.

This tendency to turn on anyone who is attempting to do something beneficial is no surprise. Even in the good ol’ days, politicians were reviled more than they were revered. W.C. Fields, the juggler who became an early comic film star said, “Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.” Not much has changed.

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Building a bigger tent

With the Republican convention only days behind us, and the Democratic convention going on this week, this is the obvious opportunity to take a lesson from their play books. Because whether you subscribe to this one or that one, you have to admit the elephants and donkeys have been exceptionally successful for many years at exactly one thing: They stay in the driver’s seat year after year, fending off challengers with the ease a well-waxed airplane sheds raindrops in flight. And they both accomplish that feat by using the exact same method. They work hard to build a big tent, and then build it even bigger at every opportunity.

In contrast, let’s consider ourselves — general aviation community. We are a minority. A small minority, actually. Very small. We are also undeniably shrinking. [Read more...]

The diamond effect

Baseball is a very simple game. As has been said so often, you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. That’s pretty much it. Except for the head work, of course. Anyone who has ever played the game can tell you, you’ve got to get your head in the game if you want to win.

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The high cost of pinching pennies

Everybody loves a bargain. I know I do. Heck, I may be the cheapest guy you’ll ever meet. But there is a cost associated with saving a dollar or two – and the general aviation crowd may not notice how dear that cost can be until it’s too late.

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Cannibalism: A cautionary tale

You can consider this post to be a cautionary tale, told in advance of things getting really, truly ugly. I hope you’ll read it carefully, take it seriously, and take it as the motivational tool it is intended to be.

When I was a teenager I had a small flock of chickens. After a year or so I gave them up and turned the birds over to my brother, who expanded the flock considerably. Eventually he grew quite a little business out of the endeavor. By the time he graduated high school he had something like 300 white leghorns out in the barn.

It would seem simple enough to raise chickens. There’s not much to it, really. Throw a little feed in the yard, provide clean water, and collect the eggs on a daily basis. Look at that — one, two, three and you’re a farmer. Then again, there’s the cannibalism to think about. Oh yes, I said cannibalism.

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Going back to school gets specialized

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport may not be a name that trips off the tongue particularly well. But maybe it should be. Because word has leaked out of the high security vault in that corner of the Florida panhandle that going back to school is going to be a whole heck of a lot more interesting for a bunch of high school students this year – thanks to a company named Island Air Express and a guy named Ron Jarmon.

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In the old days, the word “Contact!” was central to the process of getting things going. The pilot yelled  “Contact!” The mechanic then responded in kind while laying hands on the prop. Seconds later, after a grunt, a flip of the prop, and a puff of smoke, an airplane would leap to life.

Technology has changed that process a bit. But the need to make contact is as important as ever, in whatever form it takes.

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