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…]

The magic number is 30 — for now

Benefactor James Ray at the grand opening of the Central Florida Aerospace Academy in 2011.

The number of pilots in the United States is decreasing. Pretty much anyone who flies is aware of this unfortunate fact. Consider the irony: Although aviation is more ubiquitous than ever and the overall population of the nation is increasing, the number of us who have a valid pilot’s certificate is actually diminishing.

In my little corner of the world, and by corner of the world I mean, this big ol’ sandbar that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean, there is a program intended to reverse that trend. I’m particulary enamored of and tremendously excited about the mission they’ve set themselves on, as well as the success they’re having.

Yes, actual success. They really are making a profound difference that extends well past the cockpit. [Read more…]

Do something

Photo courtesy AOPA

Frederick, Maryland, has an amenity often missing in my home town: Sidewalks.

Where I live they’re spotty at best. Hence, it’s common for walkers to get into a gasoline powered vehicle which they drive to a place where they can walk without undue risk of being hit by a car, or a truck, or perhaps finding a territorial alligator in their path. [Read more…]

Limiting our freedom of speech

Photo courtesy Sporty's

The founders of this great nation — I refer to the United States of America, of course — did an amazing thing when they debated and passed a Bill of Rights. These 10 amendments to a Constitution so new the ink was still wet on the page set out specific areas of freedom for individuals and, more importantly, limits for government, that continue to guide us today. First among those amendments is the freedom of speech.

What a remarkable idea. Especially when compared and contrasted with other nations of that period.

In the U.S., an individual can speak their mind. You can say what you wish, whether it’s a cogent thought or an idiotic ramble. If you feel it, you may say it. And this freedom extends beyond the citizenry of our nation. It falls to anyone who stands within our borders. Speak freely, we say. Discuss. Debate. Explore the ramblings of your mind at will.

Of course, there are limits. [Read more…]

Poking around perception, fear, and illusive rewards

Last night I spent the evening walking and talking with a young man from my neighborhood. He’s out of high school but hasn’t begun taking classes that would lead to a higher level of certification. He’s got a job, but it’s menial, low-paying, and often frustrates him. To his credit he wants to go to college, but he has no idea how to go about it.

In essence, he’s not much different than a lot of other young men and women who live near me. He’s probably not much different than those who live near you, either.

During our discussion, I suggested he might consider finding a new job. Something that required a little more skill, carried a bit of responsibility with it, and would pay better. At the very least that would make paying for college easier.

As it happens, there is an opening for a line-boy at a nearby airport. I mentioned this to him and was truly surprised to see how negatively he reacted to the idea. [Read more…]