Maybe the O stands for opportunity

Next week, Fort Worth, Texas, will fill up with pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, writers, reporters, business owners, spouses, friends, and all the assorted characters who travel along with the big aviation enthusiast road show. The draw is the AOPA Summit, an annual gathering of the faithful, the hopeful, and the not-entirely-satisfied who all have aspirations for a more vibrant general aviation environment.

Unlike all previous Summits, this one is different. It is the last of its kind. [Read more…]

Snowballs and dominos

It has been said, what goes up must come down. The statement is so obvious that it strikes us as a truism, something so apparent that it’s legitimacy is self-evident. Then again, not everything is as it seems.

As an example, you may have noted earlier this month a small spacecraft named Voyager 1 departed our solar system for parts unimaginable. The promise of Star Trek is coming true, at least on a limited, unmanned basis. Be that as it may, Voyager has actually transitioned from the east coast of Florida where it last stood upon the earth, into a realm where basic concepts like up and down have no meaning at all.

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Go west, old dude…

One of the great advantages of writing professionally is that we who scribble ideas down for others to read rarely have to face those others in person. We don’t have to worry about an errant idea sending you to the refrigerator to ferret out some overly ripe fruits or vegetables that you can hurl in our general direction as an indication of your displeasure with our prose. We don’t get too many exuberant pats on the back, either. But avoiding the first scenario makes missing out on the second seem like small potatoes.

Occasionally, I will break with tradition and appear in public. Most often these forays out into the world involve a grocery store, a coffee shop, my neighborhood seaplane base, or the local FBO.

But this October I’ll be wandering a bit farther from my generally well beaten path. I’m headed to San Luis Obispo, California, where the California Pilots Association is holding its annual convention and meeting, called California Dreamin’. If you’re in the vicinity drop by. This promises to be a good time for people with aviation on their minds.

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An auspicious visit


Daniel Webster is a member of the US House of Representatives, sent to Washington on behalf of the people of Florida’s 10th Congressional district. One of his committee assignments is Transportation and Infrastructure, which includes 21st Century Freight Transportation, Aviation, Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. So it will come as no surprise that I was thrilled to find myself sitting in the pilot’s lounge at my home field sharing with my congressman the good news about the Polk Aviation Alliance and the bright future aviation has in central Florida.

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Welcome back…

As is my custom, I started the day at a friendly local coffee shop. The caffeine is essential to my diet, the camaraderie of the patrons is important to my mental health, and the slow ramp-up to my full working frenzy keeps me in the game for the long haul. I like going out for coffee each morning. But this trip was different than most. I welcomed a former resident back to town and made a new friend in the process.

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The distraction meter pegs

It was only recently I learned, with some considerable consternation, that CNN is reviving “Crossfire.” This is a show that ran five days a week on the Cable News Network from 1982 through 2005. In the news release announcing the rebirth of this appalling, pointless, loud, bombastic, repetitive program that is almost completely without merit, the network refers to it as “the classic debate program.”

I choose to disagree. [Read more…]

You can’t do that…and other myths

I recently wrote a post where I suggested it might be possible to earn a private pilot certificate for as little as $5,000. I made that suggestion for the simple reason that it’s true. It’s an option that is available to anyone who is willing to thrown off the yoke of 20th Century flight training convention and embrace the 21st Century opportunities available to them.

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The extra-Solar Impulse stunt

Let’s get the obvious out of the way right from the start. The Solar Impulse is gangly, goofy-looking, slow, fragile, and can’t possibly carry the entire family in luxurious comfort to Aunt Sally’s house for the holidays. That pretty much covers what it’s not, a topic which seems to have gotten a fair amount of attention during the beast’s two-month journey across the continent. But when the Solar Impulse landed in New York, Kennedy Airport was abuzz with reporters who mostly missed the point of the flight.

You’re shocked, I know.

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When landings give you lemons…

On Monday evening a Southwest Airlines flight from Nashville to New York touched down at LaGuardia. Then the sparks flew. The nose gear collapsed on roll-out, the airplane skidded to a stop, and all hell did not break loose. I repeat, nothing much happened.

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