There’s an opening in the public sector

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, only a couple months from now, local elections will be held across the continent. These races will result in new faces and old faces being sworn in to sit on city commissions, county commissions, state boards, and to fill a slew of mayoral seats.

These are the people who will be tasked with setting your property tax rates, as well as the cost of water and sewer services. They’ll determine whether garbage gets picked up once a week, or more often. These are the folks who will plan for snow removal this winter, and struggle with the budget if it falls short this year in an attempt to make sure the shortage doesn’t persist next year.

These office seekers are also the people who will decide if your local airport stays open or closes. It will be their call as to whether they’ll modernize the facilities or not. Virtually everything of importance that happens at your local airport will fall under the purview of these public officials. [Read more…]

Forget the why, focus on the how

I spent my Saturday productively, standing at the front of the Eickhoff Conference Room at SUN ‘n FUN, leading a donut and coffee fueled group of Rusty Pilots back through the intricacies of airspace, weather reports, and right of way rules. It was great. We spent three hours together laughing, learning, and sharing a few personal stories that gave context to the art and science of flying in the general aviation environment.

Near the end of the formal presentation, a very attentive fellow near the back of the room asked a great question. “Do we know why so many people have fallen away from flying?” he asked. [Read more…]

You can change the future, one hour at a time

A friend recently made a comment that has really gotten me thinking. His concept was simple enough. There are a lot of people in the world. Some are well along in their career and doing pretty good. Some are looking at the future with eyes the size of pie-plates wondering, “How am I ever going to reach my ultimate goal? It’s so far away and hard to afford.”

That’s probably true for lots of young people who have set their sights on a wide variety of professional aspirations. It’s certainly true for those who want to make a living in the cockpit. [Read more…]

Stereotypically atypical

Jamie Camping

Everybody knows that people who are into aviation are rich. They’re spoiled, self-absorbed, 1%-ers who have no regard for what it takes to get by in the real world. Heck, airplanes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s just for the small ones. Yep, pilots and aircraft owners are filthy rich scum who do nothing but sponge off the poor and the middle class so they can live out their dreams in luxurious splendor.

That’s a common perspective, you have to admit. If you fly, or wish to fly, you’ve heard it time and again. But you’ve also noticed that your personal experience doesn’t quite match up with the classic stereotype of what this aviation crowd is supposed to be. [Read more…]

Go green in 2015 – fly

They came in droves. From all corners of the globe they flowed into rural Wisconsin filling every hotel room for 100 miles. Houses were rented, tents were pitched, and brats found their way onto the grill. AirVenture was the event. Aviation was the draw. Solid connections between people was the end result.

It was spectacular, simply spectacular, on every level.

Of course when humans gather in large numbers, transit comes into play. Thousands upon thousands of people piled into cars, climbed onto motorcycles, and slid into cockpits for a trip of a dozen miles, or a hundred, or a thousand. That has an impact on our ecology, as well as the economy. [Read more…]

Growing GA is as simple as 1, 2, 3

AOPA Flying Club

The first flying club I ever came across was in Winter Haven, Florida. I was a newly minted flight instructor back then and moved to town for my first flying job.

The club was based on a taildragger, a Champ as I recall, although time may have affected my memory on that point. It might have been a Cub. No matter. There was a club. It was successful.

Eventually that club disbanded. I’m sure there were multiple reasons, certainly one of those reasons that many of the members had purchased aircraft of their own. [Read more…]

Check your bias at the hangar door


There is sometimes a vast disparity between how we see ourselves and how others see us. Generally, we’re kind to ourselves. We understand our inner angst, pat ourselves on the back for being so compassionate, and bear the scars of our emotional baggage with considerable grace. Then again, we may be perceived as bitter, wimpy, and consistently afraid of commitment.

A fascinating example of this tendency can be found in Bernard Goldberg’s 2001 expose “Bias.”

The subtitle of the book says a lot. “A CBS insider exposes how the media distort the news.” That’s powerful stuff. It’s incendiary. [Read more…]

Fair warning for Negative Ned and Nancy

Hands on training augments theoretical lessons taught in school. Each of these high school students is a certificated pilot, and having the opportunity to rebuild the engine you’ll be flying behind is a priceless gift – to say nothing of the donation of the airplane itself.

There’s a change coming in general aviation. It’s starting small, but it’s growing and if you haven’t seen the effects personally, you almost certainly will in the very near future.

If you’re prone to negativity or nay-saying and have a tendency to see the dark cloud in every situation, you might want to find someplace else to be for a generation or two. Because general aviation is being revitalized in a way that is just going to amaze you. [Read more…]

Technology lost: A very real possibility


Modern society exists in its present form, all over the world, because humans have developed, deployed, and adapted to technologies that make our lives easier, more pleasant, and longer than ever before.

Every phase of life is improved to some degree by the availability of technologies we use without the slightest thought. These technologies are convenient, relatively inexpensive, and widely available even to the least fortunate among us. Microwave ovens, wide-screen televisions, airplanes, helicopters, GPS navigation in our cars and on our phones, computerized cash register/scanners, and compact florescent light bulbs are all available to us, more or less all the time.

I wonder if that will be the case 100 years from now. Or 200 years out from today. Perhaps not. [Read more…]