Sing a happy song

Nobody who is seriously involved in aviation is unaware of the concern that student pilot starts are down and student pilot completions are down. At the same time, aviation has become a critical part of the global economy.

Ideas abound for how the industry might combat this trend and hopefully reverse it. You may have one yourself. That’s great. If even a small percentage of those ideas work, fantastic. Progress is progress.

Have you heard of the Flying Musicians Association?

[Read more...]

Internationally awesome

Last week I spent some time in Washington D.C. I had business in the area, but like most of us, when I get in the vicinity of the Mall, the monuments, and the Capital building, I find myself wanting to browse the wares of our country. There is art to peruse and documents to consider. Inventions large and small are collected there, as are homages to the achievements of average men and women who became heroic leaders through word and deed. And there are aircraft. Spacecraft, too.

The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum is one of the best visited museums on the planet. A quick glance around the main room can remove any mystery for why that might be.

[Read more...]

Leaders, followers, and picking your mission

Audry and Paul Poberezny

Like it or not, most of us are followers. That’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It’s just a thing. A description of the way things are. A stand-alone fact. Most of us follow someone else, a political office holder, an employer, a manager, a spouse.

Among us there are leaders, but they are few. I’m talking about real leaders, not people with a title and their name in gold leaf on a door. Real leaders are rare. Paul Poberezny was a leader. He founded the Experimental Aircraft Association in the basement of his home. It would be hard to find less impressive surroundings. Yet the humble address and the cramped workspace wasn’t the point. Paul had a message to share, a belief that he didn’t just espouse, he lived. Paul got a crazy idea in his head that people could, and maybe even should, build their own aircraft and fly them.

[Read more...]

Exit ramps, profit, and Yourtown USA

It is well known in most circles that airlines travel on highways in the sky. Admittedly, most folks don’t know those highways are called airways, but the name is logical, whether the general public knows it or not.

However, few have made the obvious connection between the highway in the sky concept, and the airport in their town. Perhaps this is because aircraft, unlike automobiles, can choose to use the highway or go off-road (VFR) at will. And unlike automobile users, there are massive numbers of pilots flying off-road (VFR) every day, from coast to coast.

[Read more...]

Brrrrr, ka-ching

If you’re connected to social media in any way, you’ve no doubt spent a good deal of time in recent weeks watching people get wet. Like flagpole sitting, goldfish swallowing, and stuffing as many college kids into a VW bug as possible, it’s something of a fad. Most commonly referred to as the “ice bucket challenge,” this ridiculous excuse for personal exhibitionism actually has roots in a noble cause.

Roots are one thing. Where the branches go is something else.

[Read more...]

Action, reaction, over-reaction

In the political arena opinions are rampant. Facts are often scarce, and statistics are often tweaked until reduced to little more than useless gibberish designed to support an otherwise unsupportable argument.

This is true in every town, every state, and every country. It’s a human trait, not a failing of the left or the right, the north or the south, the American or National league. It’s all of us. It’s you. It’s me.

[Read more...]

Transitions and trade-offs

Go with me on this. It’s a good story.

Annie was a 15-year-old mutt who came to us through the local pound. She was past her date for euthanization when we found her. Somehow her paperwork had been lost, buying her an extra day or two. Thank goodness. When my wife and I walked into the shelter, our two young daughters in tow, there was no doubt which dog lit their hearts on fire. It was Annie. Anastasia, actually. But we called her Annie. My youngest in a fit of rhyming glory dubbed her Annie B’annie. I liked that.

[Read more...]

Our contradictory spectacle

It was an epiphany. Not to the extent of Archimedes jumping from the tub and running through the streets naked. For one thing, I was having lunch, not a bath. For another, I was not naked at any point during this story. And as many will attest, my running days are far behind me.

Still, the idea popped into my head fully formed. It was complete and self-contained. It was this: We, the aviation community, are pioneers of an evolutionary step in human history that most of the populace isn’t ready for yet.

Yeah, I know. It sounds self-serving and conceited. But it’s true. And we owe this revelation to monster trucks, NASCAR, and the Colosseum in Rome.

[Read more...]