Recently, while covering the subject of Part 91 regulations with a crowd of general aviation enthusiasts, I posed this question: Let’s say you’re planning on making a day VFR flight from your local airport. You show up and preflight the airplane and everything looks great — except the attitude indicator isn’t working. Can you still make the flight? [Read more…]
Human beings are, by nature, a somewhat dull and pedestrian crowd. They tend to like the status quo and abhor change. If you know any human beings, you’ve no doubt noticed this characteristic of their personalities.
Perhaps nothing illustrates this resistance to change the way the global cooling/global warming/climate change argument has. Had the earth’s atmosphere been constant from start to finish, we would not have all this hubbub about whether it’s getting colder, or warmer, or wetter, or drier. Rather, we simply wouldn’t exist, because the original atmosphere surrounding the earth wouldn’t have supported mammalian life. Yet people insist on fussing and fighting about the temperature of the earth, as if there is a thermostat that can be set and locked, providing the perfect climate and weather for all time.
Uh, no. That’s not how this big blue ball works.
In the aviation world we’re not all that thrilled about embracing change, either. Consider the Sport Pilot movement. [Read more…]
Often, I hear from readers who wish to share insights and advice based on their perception of the state of the general aviation marketplace. Many of the suggestions they offer are good. They have merit. I suspect if implemented, they might actually work.
Ideas are one thing. Gaining actual traction, though, that’s the rub. Fortunately, I’m having a good year in the traction department. So are a whole bunch of other people. Coincidentally, a lot of those folks belong to flying clubs. [Read more…]
Over the course of my life I’ve had the opportunity to make a few million choices. There’s nothing unusual about that. We all make choices. Should we have red wine with dinner, or white? Should we have wine at all? Fish or chicken? You know the drill.
Of those many choices I’ve made over the last half century, I’ve chosen to fly. And I haven’t made that choice just once. I’ve made it over and over again.
Each opportunity to fly requires an entirely new set of answers to a well-established list of questions. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. Either way, the desire is there and the will to get airborne persists. [Read more…]
Just shy of a year ago I launched on a new endeavor. It was an exciting task. It was unique. It was a bit daunting, too.
In all the world there was only one other person doing what I was doing on a full-time basis, and she was nearly 3,000 miles away. Kay Sundaram took the territory known as Southern California, while I staked my claim to a massive sandbar commonly referred to as Florida. Our job was to begin the process of turning around the dwindling numbers of pilots and aviation enthusiasts in the good old U.S.A. [Read more…]
Hanging just above the desk in my office is a lithograph called “The Dealer.”
The artist’s signature is included just below his mustachioed nose. It’s a self-portrait of Kurt Vonnegut, a profoundly influential writer who did more than anyone else to push me in the direction of the literary arts.
Beside it is a thank-you note from the truly great and entirely underrated Earl Morrall. Earl played second-string quarterback for the Colts, behind Johnny Unitas, and the Dolphins behind Bob Griese. In 21 seasons with the NFL he established the model of what a quiet, stoic leader looks like. It was in Miami he did the impossible, leading his team through an undefeated season that culminated with a Super Bowl victory.
Yes, I collect autographs. [Read more…]
This past Friday I enjoyed the company of nearly a hundred close friends, most of whom I’d never met before.
The event that brought us together at Gilbert Field (KGIF) in Winter Haven, Florida, was the annual meeting of the Seaplane Pilots Association. Members gather for this once-a-year event, arriving by land, sea, and air. I have to admit, I made my way to the meeting on a motorcycle, but only because I live within spitting distance of the field. Given the opportunity, I’d have flown in, as so many did. [Read more…]
Hendry County, Florida, is situated in the vast no-man’s land just north of the Everglades and west of Lake Okeechobee. Approximately equivalent in size to Rhode Island, the entire county hosts a population of barely 38,000 people.
That being the case, this agricultural wonderland might not be the first place you’d think to find a successful general aviation business. It might even be a location you would run from, having recognized several negatives that might well prevent a GA business from succeeding there.
Yet one GA business has found true success in the wide open spaces of south central Florida, and it continues to thrive there.
There’s a lesson in there for anyone who would care to listen. [Read more…]
My wife and I were having a perfectly lovely time. We were situated in a corner booth at Egg Haven, one of my home town’s more popular eateries, as our waitress whirled through the room with an energy level that seemed impossibly high for a Sunday morning.
We were engaged in an activity long time married couples rarely do. We talked to each other. Face to face, too. I mean, we really talked. Ideas were exchanged, dreams were fleshed out, concerns were aired, and disagreements were but a minor inconvenience.
All in all, things were good. Then my eye wandered away from the restaurant to an abandoned building across the street that has, to be kind, seen better days. There, below a window with 16 panes, only three of which were still intact, were the words, “Optimism can save the world.”
Think about that for a moment, if you will. [Read more…]
Whatever you might think about how your airport operates, or how the local FBO sets its rates, or if it’s time to build a tower at your field or remained non-towered, eventually you’re going to disagree with the folks in charge.
Alternatively, if you are one of the folks in charge, you’re going to disagree with your airport’s tenants and users at some point.
At such times, it pays to have a strong sense of perspective, a willingness to lighten up a bit, and a basic understanding of conflict resolution techniques. [Read more…]