A road not taken

My pre-move house cleaning has yielded another aviation memory: A 1972 letter from the old Monmouth Airlines. It offered an answer to every young hopeful’s need for multi-engine and turbine time — very expensive but necessary stepping stones to pro flying. The question was, as always, how to afford it — and back then, how to survive it.

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Aboard Flight 93: GA’s man on 9/11

I have the feeling that few GA pilots know “one of ours” was up there on United Flight 93, capable of bringing that 757 back had passengers overcome cockpit hijackers. He was a college classmate of mine. Donald Freeman Greene was the name. I only bumped into him briefly freshman year in the dorm. He was an engineering student and an athlete. I was far from either.

Unknown to me until much later: He was the son of Leonard Greene. Don’t know that name? Founder of Safe Flight Instrument Corporation, Leonard Greene pioneered the stall warning system in 1946 after seeing a plane stall and crash. [Read more…]

Is there still ‘Room at the Top?’

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

We’re packing up our home of 21 years to leave Washington, D.C., for the last time. In boxes, I’m finding 45-plus years of aviation memories, decisions made, and paths not taken. Most poignant: The 1965 full-page United Airlines ad promising, “There’s Room at the Top.” Just above that headline was a photo: an empty seat in a United cockpit. Pasted on my bedroom door back home, it was the air under teenage dreams of a flying career.

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Splash-In a welcome break from Sun ’n Fun aftermath

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Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

Delayed by the same weather that ripped up Sun ‘n Fun, the Sun ’n Fun Splash-In at nearby Fantasy of Flight was none-the-less a refreshing post-storm break. No mud-plagued parking or twisted show planes here. A small but happy crowd relaxed lakeside bathed in fresh cool breezes off the water. These seaplane people know how to have fun!

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SUN ‘n FUN responds to crisis

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Story and Photo By Drew Steketee

“The most amazing thing that has happened at SUN ‘n FUN,” said event president John Burton late Thursday, March 31 after “a tornado, a micro-burst, I don’t know” swept through the Lakeland, Florida, fly-in and air show. Local media reported multiple tornadoes north and south of the Lakeland area during the day including the major hit on Lakeland-Linder Airport at noontime.

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Creating America’s Seaplane City

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

How many times do you hear of local government backing General Aviation? Or using GA to boost city renewal and business development? Not much these days, unless you’re around Tavares, Fla.

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Dedications & Reunions

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Airport Operators Council International.

I just learned that the city of Boise has named an airport road “Ed Stimpson Way” in honor of my (late) old boss, former GAMA president and U.S. ambassador to ICAO. I also just got the invite to my 40th college reunion — oh, geez! Both remind me of Ed, and that there was an Ed Stimpson “way” long before it was a street name in his adopted Idaho.

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Launched on the same day…

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

Some of my era’s inspiration for strong participation in GA came from military aviation. Adding to the glow of “aviation as WWII hero” were the military’s well-publicized, science fiction-like leaps in post-war technology. Turning 62 this month (along with me) is a major milestone of that period: the first non-stop flight around the world.

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Where have the good men gone?

Drew Steketee was president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel. He also headed PR and media relations for Beech, GAMA and the Airport Operators Council International.

An essay by this title recently smoked the pages of The Wall Street Journal, generating the most comments in WSJ’s online history. It was actually about “20-something’s” social and gender issues, but this and other recent news highlights demographic shifts affecting GA’s traditional market — guys!

As you know, General Aviation has always been predominantly male. The industry took some comfort when, during the 1976-79 TAKEOFF! campaign under Karen Coyle (Tripp), the female pilot population doubled to 6%. I don’t know that it has budged since, although the LSA flight school at Orlando-Apopka Airport in Florida now reports a 12% female student base. (Are the smaller, lighter LSAs the answer?) For most of GA, the easier marketing target has been (and remains) men.

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